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By henry DIRCKS, C.E. 




DURING THE 17th, 18th, and 19th CENTURIES. 







Marquis of Worcester. 




186 1. 
[7%« right of Translation is reserved,'] 






Introductoet Essay.— 1. Early history, ajjd to the Siiteenth 
century; 2. Seventeenth century characterized; 3. The 
Eighteenth century; 4. The Nineteenth century; 5. "Per- 
petual Motion " defined ; 6. Found to be a fkscinating puT" 
suit ; 7. Kind of machine sought ; 8. Is a paradox— mathe- 
maticians divided in opinion ; 9. The inventive faculty ; 10, 
Undiscovered—constant feilures ; 11. Folly of secrecy ; 12. 
At best but a toy ; 13. Influence to the study ; 14. Moderu 
instances and correspondence ; 15. Abortive efforts ; 16. 
No deciidon offered ; 17. Goneral laws not without excep- 
tions ; 18. Mathematics opposed to perpetual motion ; 19. 
Ordinary argumei]its against it ; 20. Incessant failure ; 21. 
Erroneous contrasts ; . 22. Its inutility often asserted ; 23. 
Loss of fortune assumed ; 24. Understanding assailed ; 25. 
Opposition should be feirly directed ; 26. The pursuit likeued 
to a lock without a key ; 27. Stimulus to continued search ; 
28. Belief and disbelief; 29. Error in the application, and 
not in the sciences of mechanics and mathenjiatics ; 30. Mar- 
quis of Worcester ; 31. Orfl^nreus ; 32. Invention of the first ; 
33. Invention of the second ; 34. The subject in every light 
paradoxical ; 35. Botl^ the supposed discoveries kept secret ; 
36. Scientific disbelief ; 37. Projectors should analyse their 
schemes ; 38. Its discovery unpromising and unlikely on all 
known laws ; 39. Apparatus to show the difficulty ; 39. Con- 
clusion ...... xi — xlii 

Chapter I. — Early opinions respecting the possibility of, and 

projects for obtaining, perpetual motion . . 1 — 33 

Bishop Wilkins, 1 j Scarce works on perpetual motion, 
2 ; Seeming fecility and real difficulty of several contriv- 




ances, 2—5 ; Attempts by magnetiBm, 5—7 ; and by wheel 
and solid weights, 8—12 ; Its power analysed, 9 ; Fhiid 
weights, Archimedean screw, 12—18 ; Taisnienis on Con- 
tinual Motion, 18 ; Wheel and magnet, 20 ; Leupold on 
Perpetual Motion, 21 ; on Orfl^nreus* wheel, 22 ; on a null 
and syphon, 22 ; and a pump, 23 ; "Manual Arts," 1661, 
23 : Turrianus' mill, 24 ; Fludd's works, 1618, and two 
inventions, 24 — 29 ; Bettino's works, 1645, 29—33. 

Chaptek n. — Inventions of the Marquis of Worcester and 

Councillor Orfl^reus .... 34—59 

The Marquis of Worcester and his " Century of Inventions," 
34 ; Partington's note on the same, 35 ; and on perpetual 
motion, 36 ; Orfl^T^us, his character, 37 ; his celebrated 
wheel, 38 — 42 ; and Gravesande*s letter to Sir Isaac New- 
ton, 39—42; Desaguliers against perpetual motion, 
42—48 ; Notice of Orffjrreus and Dr. Kenrick, 48, 49 ; 
Dr. Hutton on Orfl^^eus and against perpetual motion, 
49—54 ; Kenrick's lecture in fitvour of perpetual motion 
and his own invention, 54—59. 

Chapter HL — ^Patents of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth cen- 
turies, with contemporary scientific notices on them and the 
subject generally ...... 60—84 

1630, Ramseye, 60 ; 1635, Barton, 60 ; 1662, Wayne, 61 ; 
l779,Muller, 61; 1782,Morley, 61 ; 1786, Mead, 62; 1790, 
Schwiers, 65 ; 1790, Haywood, 66 ; 1794, Mead, 67 ; 1797, 
Varley, 68 ; and remarks on same, and Schwiers' patent, 
70 — 82; 1801, Thiville, and remarks on same, and per- 
petual motion, 82 — 84. 

Chapter IV.— Early papers firom the Philosophical Transactions, 
and Sir Bobert Boyle ; also the Paris Academy of Sciences, 
with notices of communications to the Academy, 1837—56 


Dr. Papin on a French invention for perpetual motion, 
85 ; his Airther remarks, 87 ; and final answer, 88, 89 ; 
Rev. J. T. Desaguliers, LL.D., his proposition on the 
balance, 89— 93 ; and on a mechanical paradox, 93 — 97 ; 
Sir R. Boyle on a self-moving liquor, 98—101 ; M. de la 
Hire, his celebrated demonstration of the impossibility of 



perpetual motion, 102 ; list of commmucationB on per^ 
petnal motion made to the Paris Academy of Sciences, 
103, 104 ; M. Parent's demonstration of the impossibility of 
perpetual motion, 105. 

Chapter V.— Remarks on Perpetual Motion, derived from trear 

Uses on Natural Philosophy .... 106 — 147 

1747, By Martin, 106—108 ; 1748, Maclaurin, 108—113 ; 
1748, Rutherford, 114—119 ; 1783, Hooper, 119, 120 ; 1794, 
Emerson, 120—122; 1800, Nicholson, 122—137; 1807, 
Young, 137—139; 1815, Gregory, 139—142; 1823, Mil- 
Imgton, 142; 1828, Partington, 143; 1828, Dr. Amott, 
144, 145 ; Montucla's " Histoire des Mathematiques," 
145—147; Cox*s clock (by Nicholson), 123—127. 

Ohapteb VL — Papers from early scientific and other journals 

From the "Gentleman's Magazine:"—!. Discovery of 
longitude, 148—153; 11. Raising water^ 153—159; m. 
Solski's machine, 159 ; IV. A self-moving wheel, 163 ; V. 
Magnetic motion, and alleged discovery by Hicken, 170 ; 
VL Archimedean water-raising machine, 173 ; Yll. Ash* 
nlan's alleged discovery, 177 ; VIH. By Galvanic agency^ 
177 ; IX. Ancient attempt at perpetual motion, 177 ; X. 
Kenrick and Miiller apply for patents, 178 ; XL A mag- 
netic scheme, 178; XlX. Spence's magnetic motion, 180; 
XIH. Magnetic wheel, 181 ; Cox*s time-piece, 182 ; Dode* 
mant's alleged discovery, 183 ; Poppe on perpetual motion, 
183 ; Gill's exposure of an impostor, 184—186 ; Dr. Young**^ 
illustrative model of perpetual motion, 187 ; Gravesande 
on perpetual motion, 187—190 ; Resolution of the Aca- 
demy of Sciences agamst memoirs on perpetual motion, 190, 

Chapter VEL— definitions and descriptions of perpetual motion: 

from encyclopaedias and dictionaries . . . 192—812^ 

Article from Rees' Cydopaedia, 192—197 ; Encyclapadia 
Britannica, 197 ; Chambers' Cyclopaedia, 197 ; Stone's 
Mathematical Dictionary, 198 ; Dictionary of Mechanical 
Science (Fisher's), 200 ; Francis' Dictionary of Arts, 200 ; 
Ogilvie's Imperial Dictionary, 201 ; Brande and Cauvin's 
^ctionary of Science, &c., 201—203; Encyclopaedia 



Americana, 203, 204 ; Diderot and D'Alembert's French 
EncyclopaBdia, 1765, 204; Encyclopedic Methodique, 205; 
Zedler's German Universal Lexicon, 1741, 206—209; 
AUegemeine Encyclopadie, von M. H. E. Meier, 1767, 
209—211 ; Dr. Binder's Conversations Lexicon, 211 ; Hof- 
mann's Lexicon, 1698, 211, 212. 

Chapter VIII. — Early popular and other jomuals, and the Percy 

Anecdotes >i . . . . . 213— 236 

Absurdity erf perpetual motion deraonsti^ated, 213 ; The 
perpetual motion hunter, 214—220; Dr. T. P. Jones 
(America) on the futility of attempting perpetiml motion, 
220 —225 ; Stukeley, Anecdote of, 226 ; Spence's perpetual 
motion, and his inventions, 226—229 ; Pendulum motion, 
229—231 ; Alleged discovery, two claimants, 231 ; A de- 
ception exposed, 231—233; another, 233,234; "Century 
of Inventions, " reviewed, 235, 236. 

Chapter IX. — Recent popular scientific and other journals 237—406' 

Section I. — Possibility of perpetual motion asserted, 237; 
by Pasley, 237 ; to promote discovery, 239 ; by Welch, 
239—241; by Todd, 241—244; Review, 244—250; A 
query, 250 ; to construct twenty models, 251 ; Arguments 
for and against, 252—254 ; by Twiss, 254 — 256 ; Pearson's 
views, 256—259; by Mackintosh, 259. Section n.— Its 
possibility denied, 259 ; advice, 259, 260 ; Objections to a 
pump, 260 ; No perpetual motion, 260—264 ; Invariable 
motion wanted, 264 ; On particles of matter, 266 ; Objec- 
tions to perpetual motion, 267 ; Editor's advice, 269 ; A 
lectm-er's observations, 269, 270 ; Scripture texts, 270 ; Re- 
marks against perpetual motion, and editor's note, 271 — 273 ; 
T(y perpetual motionists, 273 ; " Penny Magazine " article, 
275—277 ; Notes from Mudie's Mathematics, 277, 278 ; W. 
R. Groves' lecture, 279 ; General T.P.Thompson's lecture, 
281. Section HI.- Plans, 283 ; A pump, 283 ; Hydro- 
pneumatic apparatus, 284 ; De Luc's column, 285 ; A pump, 
286 ; Archimedean screw, 287 ; A pump, 288—291 ; By 
magnetism, 291 ; Several schemes, 293 ; Spence's perpetual 
motion, 294 ; A clock, 295 : A hydro-pneumatic plan, 296 — 
298 ; Band with corks, 299, 300 ; Propelling vessels, 300— 
302 ; A pump, 302 ; A clock, 303 ; Ancient attempt, a 



pump, 303—305 ; Orchard's engine, 305 ; Wheel and mag- 
nets, 307 ; Water-blowmg machine, 307 ; Hydro-pneumatic 
machine, 310—314 ; Sir W. Congreve's schemes, 314 — 326 ; 
Pendulum motion, 327 ; Wheel and magnets, 329 ; Cox*s 
time-piece, 330 — 338 ; Magnetic pendulum, 339 ; Syphon, 
340 ; New motion, 342 ; Railway carriage, 343 ; Sims' water 
elevator, 346; Worcester's scheme, 347 ; Wheels and pumps, 
349; Wheel and weighted levers, 350 ; Pump, 351 ; Mill, 
354 ; Demonstration against water-wheels, 356—361 ; An 
hydraulic mover, 361; Paradoxical balance, 363; Arising 
and descending equal weight, 364; Two "certain" plans, 
365; Wheel, ball, and magnet, 367; Its fellacy, 369; An 
attempt, 369. Section IV. — Claimants, 370 ; Alleged dis- 
covery in Stamford, 370; Advertisement, 371 ; by Van 
Dyke, 371; Franklin, 372; A clock, 373; Wright, 373; 
Sellery, Buckle, Townsend, 374 ; Stringfellow, Hutt, 375 ; 
in Gravesend, 375 ; Hendrickson, and his sad fate (America), 
376 ; Chenhall's clock. Section V.— Impostures, 378; in 
Scotland, 378 ; from America, 380 ; Adams, 381 ; in Finch- 
lane, 382 ; Redhoeffer (America), 383. Anecdote of Stukely, 
383; Article on impossibility, 384; On impracticability, 
385 — 390; A popular view, 390 ; Deuchar on loadstones, 
393 ; Spence's imposture, 394 — 395 ; A paradox, 396 ; A 
pump, 397 ; Hollow-spoked wheel and weights, 398 ; The 
pursuit censured, 399 ; Eoioto's scheme, 400 ; On attempts, 
401 ; Alleged discovery by Wather ; Plan of double wheels 
(American), 402, and by Willis, 404 ; and others, 404 ; 
Poppe on perpetual motion, plans, and an imposture, 405. 
Censure, 406. 

Chapter X. — Newspapers and miscellaneous sources of informa- 
tion , , , . . • . . 407—427 

The Athenian Qracle, 407 ; Alleged discovery by Bayne, 
408 ; Spence's invention, 408 ; Dalling's scheme, 409 ; A 
wager, 410 ; Mannardet's wheel, 410 ; Garhar's scheme, 
410 ; Geyser's imposture, 411 ; Irish Advertisement, 411 ; 
Alleged discovery, 412; and in Newcastle, 412; An impos- 
ture, 413 ; Presumed discovery, 413 ; by Van Dyke, 414 ; 
Richards' engine, 414 ; by Vignemon, 415 ; by Stannard ; 
by Hutt, 416 ; in Lille,* 417; Pasley's views, 417; Eaton's 

• Probably the machine patented by Asaert, of Lille. (See page 451.) 


gyplion, 418 ; Legge's power, 419 ; Foster's wheel (Ame^ 
rica), 419; Predaval*s patent motive power company, 

Chapteb XI— Patents of the I^eteenth century, for improve- 
ments in obtainiog inotivQ power: English, French, and 
American ...... 428—500 

Remarks on patents, 428; Patentees, namely:— Plea- 
wmts, 429 ; Winter, 430 ; Copland (three patents), 431 ; 
Linton, 485; Jordan, 437; Congreve, 437; Hainsselin, 438 ; 
Predaval, 442 ; BraziU, 442 ; Stuckey, 443 ; W. W. Sleigh 
(four patents), 446 ; Eaton, 450 ; Asaert, 451 ; Fr^che, 
455; Buchholz, 459 ; Greaves, 459, 460 ; Faulkner, 460 ; 
Luedeke, 460 ; Wood, 461 ; Fitt, 461 ; Newton, 461 ; 
Olomey, 462 ; Bellford, 463 ; A. W. Sleigh, 463 ; Aitken, 
463; Shaw, 464; Oulton, 464; Thomas, 465; Hale, 465, 
481 ; Malavas, 466 ; Huddart (two patents), 467 ; Benton, 
468 ; Weber, 468 ; Gilardeau, 468 ; Jones, 469 ; Herault, 
469 ; Lang, 470 ; Dembinski, 470 ; Layeuder, 471 ; Lespi- 
nasse, 471 ; Barrow, 472 ; Lecocq, 472 ; Predavalle (four 
patents), 472 ; Commandeur, 475 ; Fontainemoreau, 478 
Gilmour, 478 ; Middleship, 479 ; Mennons, 481 ; Hill, 481 
Richard, 482; Black, 483; Coates, 484; Pickering, 485 
Wright and Mercer, 485 ; Starbuck, 486 ; Roussel, 486 
Rigby, 486 ; Smith, 487 ; Picciotto, 489 ; Priuce G. Gen- 
nerich, 491 ; Redrup, 493 ; Edwards, 495. Patentees' 
professions, 496. List of French patents, 497 ; iMid Ame- 
rican patents, 498. Concluding remarks, 499, 

Chapter XH. — Summary remarks , . . 501—504 

Scarce works, 501 ; List of eminent mathematicians, 
their births and deaths, 501 ; Dr. Kenrick, notice of, 502 ; 
Century of Inventions, unnoticed in foreign works, 502, 
503 ; An error in naming the Marquis of Worcester, 603 ; 
Orffyreus's name ; some patents probably omitted, 503 ; 
Condufiion, 504. 

Appeitoix ^ • . • . . . 505—534 

A. Prom "Theatrum Machinarum Generale," by 
Jacob Leupold. Ldpsic, 1794. Folio. Referred to at 
page 21.— 505— 509 


Who will not be reminded, on perusing the title of this book^ 
of the exclamation — " Will no one write a book on what he 
"onderstands ! " Great will be the disappointment of him 
who seeks here to find an account of any veritable Perpetual 
Motion ; or, to be enlighteiied on the art of constructing any 
such machine. Neither will he even meet with any very 
powerful arguments for or against its possibility. Either 
way, whatever may be his views, we opine he will discover 
many deficiencies, little to praise, and, as in all other human 
works, much to censure. 

Can such a book be a desideratum? Yes; because it 
supplies a niche hitherto vacant in the history of Mechanical 
Science ; it opens to view a ciirious phase in the mental con- 
stitution of a certain class of inventors ; it brings into a com- 
prehensive form their labours and the opinions of their 
bpponents, gathered from sburces scattered through a vast 
variety of "^Vorks— many inaccessible to the general student ; 
and, lastly, it fexhibits an amount of infatuia,tion respecting 
patent schenles that would otherwise have remained long 
unknown ; or, if asserted without this evidence, could scarcely 
have been credited. If this publication tends to the attaining 
of no other result than arresting the further operations of this 
misguided, though ingenious, class of men, it will have erected 
a step in the ladder bf ajiv|i;icement. 

The writer at a vefy^jWly period of life became aware of 


1. In the classic ages, Invention was restricted almost exr 
clusively to Poetry and Painting, hence to however remote a 
period we may trace the history of manual arts, we find it 
harren of all interest, save that which always attaches to a 
comparatively primitive character. Except as considered 
Metaphysically and Mathematically, we cannot but feel sur- 
prised how the idea of a self-motive mechanical power should 
have originated, or at what period it could have been called 
into existence. As emanating from the fruitful fancy of the 
poet or romancer, it may readily be conceived, but with what 
object and by what means the rude mechanician of a remote 
antiquity woi^d attempt it, is not readily to be conjectured. All 
modem ideas on the subject would reasonably ally it with im- 
provements early connected with Horologe, when automata 
of every kind engaged the attention of the ingenious mecha- 
nician ; or, to a period when water and other natural agents 
were commonly to be seen operating machines employed in 
mechanical arts, and which, as they were early brought to a 
state of considerable perfection, the ne plus ultras would most 
likely, for a long time, appear to have been attained ; and 
what then would be more natural, in the oi^w^rd progress of 
improvement, than to seek for the obtaining of power by some 
direct application of grayity ? The problem of a Perpetual 
Motion once pron^ulgated would prove highly attractive, asf 
it would appear in ^ primitive age easy, natural, and perfectly 
attainable. Imagination may thus supply the probable pro- 
cess originating this pursuit, one equally curious, contra^- 


dictory, and seductive. We cannot trace the history of its 
practical operations previous to the sixteenth century, and 
at that era only to a very limited extent.* When, however, we 
consider the mutations and dificulties attending early 
histories generally, we have little to be surprised at in the 
fact of this meagre information. Whatever may have been 
the fate of this class of lost inventions, certainly — so far as 
may be judged from modern models — we seem to have no 
great occasion for regret ; except, indeed, such as would un- 
questionably apply to the curiosity of their mediaeval character. 

2. In the seventeenth century we find schemes for appljring 
magnetism, pneumatic agency, weights, and atmospheric 
changes. To this period belongs the celebrated invention of 
the Marquis of Worcester, exhibited by him before Charles I. 
and his court. During the same century were established, 
in London, the Royal Society ; and in Paris, the Royal 
Academy of Sciences.f These learned bodies showed less 
fastidiousness than they afterwards observed, in the class of 
Memoirs they admitted, consequently we find both were 
drawn into discussion, by their members, on the then popular 
topic of the time — " Perpetual Motion." Patents were also 
being granted in England thus early for reputed perpetual 
motion machines. 

3. In the eighteenth century it was currently reported that 
the discovery was at length made ; sometimes propagated by 
the public press, at others by the scientific journals then 
coming into repute. The latter admitted papers in which 

♦ In the 16th century, Edmimd Jentill, in a letter to Lord Burghley, 
dated October, 1594, amongst other matters, professed to have dis- 
covered " A perpetuall motion of sufficient force to diyve a myll ;" 
afterwards, in another statement, adding the words, " in any standinge 
water, or quike springe, which maie alsoe be converted to sundrie other 
uses comodious for aJI estates, which have hetherto byn supposed to be 
unpractyzable." See " Science in England," illustrated in letters from 
the reign of Queen Elizabeth to Charles the Second, edited by J. O. 
HaUiweU, F.R.S., &c., 8vo, 1841, pp. 35-6. 

t See their decision against admitting and discussing papers on the 
subject, pp. 190-1, 


the subject was treated rather favourably than otherwise ; and 
the " Annual Register '* and " Gentleman's Magazine" made 
known the invention of Orffyreus, which had acquired re- 
markable notoriety in Germany ; attributable perhaps to the 
large premium he required, and the patronage of a Prince of 
Hesse Cassel. To crown all, during the South Sea Bubble 
mania, the' prospectus was 'issued of a company " For a 
Wheel for Perpetual Motion."* 

4. But it is to the present century we must look for abun- 
dant and various schemes. The ready means afforded for 
making such plans public, through the medium of cheap 
popular scientific journals and magazines, and likewise the 
facilities afforded for patenting inventions, have brought 
to light much curious matter. 

5. Before proceeding further, it becomes requisite to premise 
in what sense the term Pebp:rtuum: Mobile, or Perpetual 
Motion, should be taken ; that is, in its mechanical applica- 
tion, which is the only one we have to consider. The term 
must unquestionably be used in a modified, and not in its 
absolute literal sense ; being thus accepted as one early, yet 
wrongfully, though popularly applied, it distinguishes inven- 
tions intended to be operated through the medium of their 
own peculiarly-constructed internal arrangements, and seems 
afterwards, though improperly, to have been extended to in-- 
genious automata, worked by external agents, as magnetism, 
&c. ; which latter we reject entirely. It is manifest that the 
term neither does, nor ever can, strictly apply to any product 
of human intelligence. In this limited sense it means any 
machine which (independent of wear) would not run out. 
A ball always rolling, a fiuid always flowing, a wheel always 
turning — each operating by gravity alone — would exactly 
fulfil the required condition. But not so machinery moved 
by any external commumcated power, as the tides, wind, 
electricity, temperature, or like agencies. We may even go 

* See Anderson's History of Commerce. 


the length to assert that, in this strict mechanical sense, even 
the planetary system offers no exhibition of perpetual motion 
in the several planets themselves, although each is in per- 
petual movement. The distinction lies here : — the motions 
of the earth, for example, are referable to other causes than 
its own structural arrangement, internal or external. By 
Perpetual Motion, then, is simply to be understood — a self- 
sustained continuous mechanical motive power ; and which 
we shall now next proceed to consider. 

6. A German metaphysician declared his preference to 
truth being hid, even had he the choice of its being other- 
wise, from the exquisite gratification which the search after 
it affords the true philosopher. The long-hidden truth 
respecting Perpetual Motion has exercised the mental energies 
of men of the highest intellect, and has entangled in its 
toils men of the humblest attainments. Much as is known 
respecting what has been done in this investigation, how 
much remains untold ! In action, if not in words, those who 
seek for this perpetuum mobile, much as they desire to find it, 
take no small pleasure in the endless contrivances it re- 
quires and suggests. The inquiry always presents itself to 
the mind as exceedingly simple and easy ; particularly to the 
iminitiated. The early life-history of inventors continually 
informs us of the youthful genius fascinated with the pleas- 
ing prospect of cutting the Gordian knot. The early career 
of Sir Richard Arkwright was marked by his acquaintance 
with the clockmaker Kay, who made the first model of his 
memorable cotton-spinning machine, through his applying to 
him to construct a perpetual motion model. And it is really 
remarkable tq find thj^t inventors are not wanting who, 
although not' possessed of any assured proof of its pos- 
sibility, nay, in direct opposition to every announcement of 
its impracticability, and as if in contempt of every censure 
heaped on the pursuit, are still to be found rushing into this 
hazardous arena. It has been condemned as a chimera, an 
is^nis fatuus, an absurdity ; and yet adventurers are nothing 


daunted. Surely this opens to us a curious phase of the 
human mind, that sets at nought the dicta of mechanics 
and mathematics, and the admitted laws of nature. 

7. Any machine would deserve the distinctive character of 
being a perpetual motion, that acquired its rotation, sup- 
posing it to be a wheel, from a property consequent on the 
arrangement of its internal parts, always compelling one side 
to become heavier than the other; such motion being no 
other than the ability in a machine to generate' and maintain 
its own power of movement. 

8. The attempts to solve this problem would sefeni, so far, 
only to have proved it to be thoroughly paradoxical. The 

• inventions I'esulting from it during the last three centuries 
baffle any attempt at classification developing progressive 
improvement. It would almost seem as if each inventor 
had acted independent of his predecessors ; and, therefore, 
frequently re-inventing, as new, some exploded fallacy. 
These retrograde operations, and strange resuscitations, have 
led to unmitigated censure, and a sweeping charge of igno- 
rance, imbecility, and folly. No doubt many instances exist 
especially deserving the severest treatment ; but unsparing 
censure loses half its causticity, and it shows a weak cause, 
or weaker advocacy, to condenm: all parties alike as deficient 
both in learning and common sense. It has long been, and 
so remains to this day, an unsettled question, whether Per- 
petual Motion is, or is not, possible. To name no other, it is 
evident, from their writings, that Bishojy Wilkins, Gravesande, 
Bernoulli, Leupold, Nicholson, and many eminent mathema- 
ticians, have favoured the belief in the possibility of Perpetual 
Motion, although admitting difficulties in the way of its dis- 
covery.* Against it, we find de la Hire, Parent, Papin, Desa- 
guliers, and the great majority of scientific men of all classes 

♦ A recent Gennan writer says : — " The discovery of such a motion 
is difficult, but not impossible j as Kastner, Laagsdorf, and other cele- 
brated mathematicians, have frequently shown. (See pa^e 405.) 


and countries. It is evident, therefore, that even mathema- 
ticians are not agreed. But to the further consideration of 
this point we shall presently return. 

9. The inventive faculty in most men in early life, and in 
others during their lives, according to the power and bent of 
their genius, information, and position in life, takes an 
essentially romantic turn, unless curbed by experience or 
necessity. This is no evil omen in youth, but is scarcely 
excusable at a riper age. Invention should not be always 
soaring among clouds, and finding delight only in mysticism. 
A fervid imagination forbids the seeing of impossibilities, 
even when opposed by stern realities. The theoretical or the 
practical engineer, unhappily led away by this substitution of ' 
prolific fancies in place of sound judgment, is the last person 
to be convinced by the most obvious obstacles to success, in 
the fidfilment of his ■ views and statements. To him, every 
opponent is the victim of little-mindedness, prejudice, and 
envy* To himself, all his opinions stand for realizable 
objects. We cannot avoid having some, though a very 
chastened, sympathy with such enthusiastic projectors, who 
would seem to pride themselves on the strongly-expressed 
notion that " genius to madness is near allied.*' It is, un- 
questionably, in such cases, a constitutional weakness, ill 
fitting its possessor for that calm, cool, reflective character 
which alone commands confidence and ensures respect. The 
class of men who form the largest body of inventors are better 
practical than theoretical mechanicians ; to them the refine- 
ments of geometers are truly a fountain sealed, and it would 
perhaps be difficult to offer propositions and definitions level 
to their general comprehension ; but the attempt is worthy of 
the most gifted mind. If they do not always see the bearing 
and consequence of one being equal to one, a pound to a 
pound, the like to the like, and other profound expressions, 
of this at least they may rest pretty well satisfied — that the 
easier the problem of self-motive power appears to them, 
just in a reverse ratio is it the more difficult ; — and that just 


in proportion as they see two or any greater number of 
eqiially feasible constructions, they may with certainty take 
them as representing, not Perpetual Motion, but the squares 
of distance they are by consequence from the goal of their 

10. The history of the search for Perpetual Motion does 
not afford a single instance of ascertained success; all 
that wears any appearance of probability remains secret, 
and, like other secrets, cannot be defended in any satis- 
factory way against the opinions of the sceptical, who 
have in their favour, in this instance, an appeal to 
learned authorities against the principle of all such machines, 
and the total want of operativeness in all known prac- 
tical results. Published statements afford sorry examples 
of talents and ingenuity strangely misapplied. Some, but 
very few, are slightly redeemed from contempt by a glimpse of 
novelty. Of genius all are deficient, and the reproductions 
of known fallacies shows a remarkable ignorance of first 
principles on one side, and of the most ordinary sources of 
information On the other. One of the grossest fallacies of 
the mind is that of taking for granted that ideas of mecha- 
nical constructions, apparently the result of accident, must of 
necessity be quite original. The history of all invention 
fairly leads to the conclusion that, were all that is known to 
be swept from the face of the earth, the whole would be re- 
invented in coming ages. The most doubtful " originality" is 
that which any inventor attributes to his ignorance of all 
previous plans, coupled with an isolated position in life. It 
may be granted that the desire of secrecy often renders in- 
vestigation difficult, and, from some remarkable feeling of 
this nature, most inventors of supposed perpetual motion 
machines, believing themselves possessors of this notable 
power, make it a matter of profound secrecy. 

11. It is difficult to surmise whether the expectancy of 
honour or hope of high reward has most contributed to pro- 
mote investigations of this character, and led to the folly of 


making a great secret of the presumed discovery. Each in 
its turn has indubitably had its influence. They who sought 
fame have been most miserably disappointed ; and as to 
wealth, who has ever seen a return for his first outlay ? At 
one period, the large premiums of from £10 to £20,000, 
offered by Government for means to discover the longitude at 
sea, stimulated many ; and when rescinded, the problem lost 
nothing of its interest with many really ingenious individuals ; 
for at that period there was a real difficulty for the inventive 
to know what to invent, to satisfy their desire of producing 
novel mechanical contrivances. The evils of secrecy are 
Numerous. The inventor is left to believe in a bubble ; the 
public are deluded, and impostors reap the only harvest, by 
imposing on the credulity of all lovers of the wonderful — of 
which a secret will generally be accepted as one ; while the de- 
ceived are mostly prompted by the hope of making a dis- 
covery. And who can deny the pleasure there is in solving a 
secret ? 

12. An object of such long-continued, inveterate, and indus- 
trious inquiry might at least be supposed to be attainable, 
and when attained to be of superlative value. Reserving the 
first inquiry for further observation, we will only presume its 
J)ossibility admitted, and direct attention to the only probably 
feorrect estimate of its intrinsic value. It has been attempted 
to effect Perpetual Motion by water, mercury, sand, levers, 
inclined planes, Archimedean screws, Barker's mills, water- 
wheels, single wheels, drum wheels, multiplied wheels, and 
other mechanical means. One might almost desire to know 
what has not been put on its trial to make wheel-work con- 
tinually turn itself. A thousand failures do not prove the 
thing impossible, because a thousand persons may have taken 
a wrong direction. But it proves this, that something, how- 
ever trifling, is wanting ; so small, it may be, perhaps, that 
no one has hitherto taken the trouble to look for it ! Suppose 
it to be something to act as a lubricator; or something as a 
detent, at a particular point. Does not this at once suggest 


the weakness and feebleness of such a machine for any utili- 
tarian purpose ? It must be plain that it would, at best, be 
little more than an exquisitely curious toy. 

13. Many persons may have been dra^vn into this amusing 
pursuit imder the influence of vague impressions that self- 
motive ppwer was but a lost invention. The more abstruse 
the inquiry, the more some minds are gratified in probing 
the subtleties which mystery abundantly affords. Hence 
Judicial Astrology, the Philosopher's Stone, the Quadrature 
of the Circle, the Multiplication of the Cube, the Elixir Vitae 
— ^a panacea for all diseases — have each been sources of in- 
tense study. The metaphysical Cowley says, in " The Adept," 
that, tbough he — 

his great secret miss, 

For neither it in art or nature is, 

Yet things worth while his toils he gains; 
And does his charge and labour pay 
With good unsought experiments by the way. 

The Baconian Philosophy has so far discoui-aged as to have 
^spelled nearly all these chimeras. Only for its influence, 
dreams of philosophy would have increased, rather than, as 
they have done, fallen into decay. 

14. We will not, however, close here, but endeavour to show, 
from comparatively recent personal experience, the working 
effects of taking up the study of Perpetual Motion as a serious 
employment — some men experimenting for years, others for 
the best part of a lifetime. All studies of a mental kind 
may be, and continually are being, carried to excess. It has 
been so in Painting, in Statuary, in Music, in Literature, and 
in all the Learned Professions. The " pursuit of Knowledge 
under difficulties" has driven many to despair ; and the irri- 
tability, anxieties, and distresses of " Genius " imder every 
phase, have been admirably depicted by D'Israeli. The 
"Martyrs of Science" have been many — the victims to the 
pursuit of Perpetual Motion not a few. If Hartmann of 
Leipsic hanged himself from despair at his vainly-spent life 


in prosecuting this hopeless attempt, could not an equalty 
sad tale be related of many a Poet and Artist ? But to pro- 
ceed, we will first give a series of short narratives relating to 
modem instances of devotion to this search after a self- 
motive power* ; followed by extracts from several years' cor- 
respondence. — First, of personal narratives : — 

I. A tall old Welshman, a custom-house officer, imagined 
he had found out Perpetual Motion by some peculiar applica- 
tion of sand from the sea shore. He went to London with 
the machine he had invented, and applied to the Board of 
Longitude, but without receiving any encouragement. He 
used to say that it was while listening to a sermon at St. 
James's Church, Liverpool, from a particular text (which he 
never named) that he had the first idea of the machine he 
had invented. 

II. A watchmaker showed his customers the model of a 
wheel and weights in his shop, belonging to a German. 
It had employed a man three months cleaning, and had 
been left on his hands for ten years, therefore he supposed 
the Qerman would never redeem it, although he had travelled 
with the machine all over Europe. He had some means of 
making it work ; but walking across the room, or a passing 
cart in the street, would suffice to jostle and stop the works. 
The same watchmaker had been presented by some other 
party with a pamphlet entitled ** Perpetual Motion: ex- 
plained as it is discovered in nature. By Peter Brentano. 
Gloucester : Printed by William Verrinder, 24, Southgate 
Street, 1830." 27 pages. It is arranged under these 
heads : — 

Page 3. " Perpetual Motion, or, self-possessing power to 
move in space void of air caused by a method of forcing the 

'*' Since these narratives were arranged, the author has been informed, 
on unquestionable authority, that Bamsden, celebrated for his dividing 
machine, used frequently to metttion the fact of the late Duke of 
Gordon, at Aberdeen, being deeply and expensively engaged in carrying 
out experiments for obtaining Perpetual Motion. 


vatet Tdiich runs out of a tube, back into^ tfie same tube 
again, the power for forcing back the^ water gained by 

This is followed by* two engravings, one representing an 
"Iron Case." 

Page 11. ^'Formation of a Vacuum £or the Moving 

Page 12. " lUustrations.** 

Page 14. " Creation of Time." [Genesis^ chap; 1, verses 
1, 2, 3, 4, 6.} 

Page 20. '* The Formation of Time." [Genesis, verses 
6, 7, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17, IB.] 

Page 24. Job, chapv 38, verses 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14. 

III. Mr. S had a curious Perpetual Motion contrivancev 

constructed of double cones, made with mathematical pre- 
cisicm. His first trial of it was before his wife, and shut up- 
in his room, where all it wanted wa» his continued presence 
and assistance ! 

rV. Mr. E— — , a very ingenious workman, devoted all his 
time to mechanical pmrsuits in relation to Perpetual Motion, 
reducing himself to a state of beggary through his fondness 
for his favourite pursuit. He was always in high spirits, 
peaking confidently of his success being near and certain ; 
yet, to the last, one thing was wanting, the very thing first 

V. Mr. P— — followed the pursuit of Perpetual Motion 
above twelve years, until at last his mind became affected. 
Later in life he preferred being silent on the subject. He 
used to say his notions of it were very simple, so much so, 
that wefe he only a practical mechanic he should not doubt 
of success, but that to place his plans in the hands of work- 
men "Would cmly expose his inventions to his disaidvantage. 
He contrived a quantity of apparatus principally on a large 
scale, with different kinds of wheels, some operated by water, 
and aU intended to be kept constantly overbalancing. 

VI. Mr. E stateathat Mr. Charles, of Bala (Wales), in 


his Dictionary of the Bible, under the article "Mills,** 
relates of mills in Wales which worked without wind or 
water, or the aid of man, after being once set in motion. 

This, Mr. E says truly, is very like Perpetual Motion. 

Mr. Charles, he proceeds, further states that, about the year 
1500, William Salisbury (first translator of the Bible into 
Welsh) had a mill of this description. He also gives an 
account of a wheel and millstone found near Corwen, sup- 
posed to have belonged to such a mill. The wheel was all 
of wood, except one qtmrter ; the axle was the thickness of a 
man's thigh, and the millstone three feet diameter, having a 
piece of metal attached to its edge, which had probably been 
a loadstone ! Mr. E says he has tried many plans for 

Perpetual Motion, all of which have failed ; he has thought 
of a hundred schemes or more, but still he thinks he knowsr 
of one plan superior to all hitherto tried. 

VII. In Manchester, a man forty years of age, who had 
made his money as a common moulder in a foundry, ex- 
pended the sum of three hundred pounds in models of wheels 
having falling arms, arranged with the intention of always 
preponderating on one side, made for him by a watchmaker. 

Vm. Mr. B of London, philosophical instrument 

maker, entered into an engagement with a gentleman, who 
bound him on oath to keep the secret of his plans in working 
out his scheme for Perpetual Motion, under a penalty of one 
thousand pounds. His employer, a rich gentleman, expended 
above two thousand, and himself one thousand pounds in 

fruitless efforts. Mr. B when speaking of their career, 

would take up a scrap of paper, and tearing off a very small 
portion, exclaim — " We got it — all but that/* throwing the 
paper scrap on the table. 

IX. Mr. R was made a confidant by a friend of his, 

who so firmly believed himself possessed of a veritable self- 
moving and most powerful machine, that he consulted Mr. 

R on a means of stopping it, after its being once set in 

motion ! 


X. A mechanic, a model maker, had a neat brass model 
of a timepiece, in which were two steel balls A and B ; — B to 
fall into a semicircular gallery C, and be carried to the end 
D of a straight trough D E ; while A in its turn rolls to E, 
and 80 on continuously ; only the gallery C not being screwed 
in its place, we are desired to take the will for the deed, imtil 
twenty shillings be raised to complete this part of the work ! 

XI. Mr. F professes to have an unfailing Perpetual 

Motion, obtained by making the vertical pressure of a column 
of water work a four-feet wheel, which by a fall of eight feet 
will enable him, with a one-foot crank, to raise water to a pump 
to supply the cistern above, and, after allowing for friction, 
leave a surplus of above one-third of the power employed. 
He has, he says, studied Perpetual Motion for twenty years ; 
and has several plans, but this he estimates to be worth all 
the rest. His brother, who has followed the same pursuit, 
has a room set round with machines, none of which ever 
went. His nearest approach to success was in a method 
acting by the percussion of balls, one after another, as a 
wheel revolved ; on which, and other plans, he has expended 

upwards of £1500, Mr. F knows a gentleman who has 

been thirty years engaged on this subject, and is pecuniarily 
assisted by a person of good means. 

XII. In a conversation with Mr. — — , he stated that a 
friend of his, although he was a Professor of Mathematics in 
one of our Colleges, had invented a mode of propelling vessels, 
which was only what would be called a Perpetual Motion ; 
yet he was for years infatuated with his plan, before he could 
satisfy himself that it was preposterous to expect it to operate 
as a propulsive power. 

XIII. Mr. , a dissenting minister, then resident in the 

North of England, in conversations with his nephew, about 
the year 1835, mentioned his having been 14 years seeking 
to discover Perpetual Motion, in which he at last succeeded, 
having had a wheel with rolling balls in motion several days; 
after which he destroyed it to avoid discovery, retaining only 


his drawings. He liad castings made, which he could finish 
in a lathe himseif, with all other requisite work for his in- 
dention. He was a good linguist and mathematician, and 
■died at forty years of age ; his relative considered that he 
must have expended at least ^1500 in experiments. His 
brother, also a minister, could not be persuaded, by drawings, 
«f the possibility of this continuous movement, but still he 
sent an account of his brother's invention to a local publica- 
tion, about 1835-6. 

And secondly, the following extracts from correspondence 
are offered in further corroboration of the opinions and feel- 
ings of inventors once entangled in the meshes of this 
mechanical dilemma l-^ 

XIV. Mr, P writes from Slough, 6th Nov., 1847:— 

** I have discovered a system by which Power to any extent 
may be procured by a self-acting piece of machinery. My 
object is not the amount of money, but to meet with a party 
who possesses sufficient knowledge and influence to procure 
and protect a patent." 

XV. Mr. H — — , Islington, 28th July, 1848, says :— 
** Having matured the plan of a mechanical improvement 
which I am persuaded will be highly profitable to any capi- 
talist who will join with me in taking out a patent and ap- 
plying the invention to practical use, I beg leave to certify 
the same to you. When I state that I have submitted a 
drawing and description to the scrutiny of Lord G — — and 
Mr. V .■ , and that they have both borne practical testimony 
of their favourable opinion by presenting me with a handsome 
contribution, I trust you will not allow any preconceived 
opinion of the impossibility of Perpetual Motion to operate to 
my prejudice, when I announce that such is the object of my 

XVI. Mr. H , of Weymouth, 12th Feb., 1849, com- 
municates about *' a continuous revolution machine, which 
overcomes gravity," and "has friction wheels to stop it!" 


XVII. Mr. H , Hinckley, 2l8t Jan., 1850, writes :— 

*' Sir, — ^As I am confident of the machine going, but am in 
want of money, which stops its progress, I am sure from £4 
to £6 will set it a-going." He had previously written : — 
" Sir, — ^We have always imderstood that there was a free 
patent and a premium for any one that discovered the Per- 
petual Motion." 

XVIII. Mr.' R , Liverpool, 26th Nov., 1850, states :— 

" I have invented a machine to give motion to any kind of 
machinery. Its power is not derived from any changeable or 
expensive element ; in short, it is a Perpetual Motion, It may 
be applied to any stationary machinery, but not to ships and 
carriages. 1 have not made a practical experiment of it, but 
its truth is clear and simple.* What I expect to have for it 
will be £500 sterling." 

XIX. Mr. K , PentonvHle, 20th Dec, 1850, cor- 
responds about two inventions : — " No. 1. Maintaining power 
by machinery, to gain any power that may be required, to 
any extent; and No. 2. A maintaining water power from a 
well, or still tank, thereby to get a perpetual water power." 

XX. Mr. M , Liskeard, 10th May, 1852, writes about 

his "new motive power," of which he states : — " The advan- 
tages are its cheapness and simplicity j not costing more than 
about £1. per horse power, and its perpetuity of motion, for 
it will start itself, and will go for ever without requiring any 
attendance, except for oiling, repairs, &c. As it is not 
patented, of course I would not describe it further than to 
say, it is worked by an entirely new principle which I have 
discovered." In another letter he says : — " The motive force 
is the buoyant power of water, a force which costs nothing, 
and is easily obtained." 

XXI. Mr. H , Kent, 23rd Aug., 1852, writes in a strain 

which excites our interest and sympathy : — " I have com- 

♦ It turned out to be an endless band or chain carrying buckets to 
fill an upper dstem, from which it was to be worked. 


pleted (he says) a most valuable invention to give true time 
at sea ; it supersedes the use of the chronometer, has no 
spring, and never requires to be wound up, being self-acting. 
It acts by the gravity of mercury, and as gravity is not 
affected by temperature, when set to Greenwich mean time 
continues to show that time in every climate or part of the 
world. It is an invention of the most simple kind, truly 
mathematical in its mechanical construction, both in practice 
and theory. It solves the problem of Negative Attraction ^ 
which is this : — ^A raises B, acting on a wheel C ; and B 
raises A to its former position, continuing the motion of the 
toothed wheel C, negativing the attraction of the gravity of 
A» merely by the change in the position of B, which is 
mercury, whose gravity shifts in the tube that contains it ; 
and this change of position, from left to right, and vice versa, 
constitutes a self-acting balance compensating lever, and that 
acts on an equally simple and compensating escapement, 
which is effected by the force of A and B, ultimately ; with 
these, and four wheels, the machine is a complete chrono- 
meter, giving quarter second time. It can be varied in size 
and weight, and can be equally applied for a church clock or 
a watch. This invention has cost me thirty years' study and 
experience, and now that I have obtained the result required 
mathematically, I am aware of its value in a double sense ; 
the English patent alone is worth £60,000 to the trade of 
Horlogery generally, and at the same time from neglecting 
every other thing to attain this object, I am in want of means 
to render me so far independent of the trade as to be able to 
demand the above sum, or carry out my principle by absorb- 
ing the sale of self-acting chronometer watches and clocks." 

XXII. Mr. S writes from Creetown, Scotland, 12th 

June, 1855 : — ^" I have a small machine I think might come 
\o be of some use to the public ; it is a small engine, the 
same nearly as a steam-engine, which could work itself, 
without either steam or anything to assist it. It would 
require no assistance after it commenced, except oiling. I 


think I might have something for it, as it would save every 
cost after put up. It would require no winding up or any- 
thing. I heard that Government had a reward out for to try 
and find out something that could work itself. I think it 
would be of great use ; it could drive mills or the like itself." 

XXIII. An Irish correspondent (Mr. G — — ) writes from 
the county of Donegal, dated Moville, 25th Sept., 1855 : — 
•* After long and painful study of mechanical power, I have 
at present arrived at my purpose of a power that will drive 
the British Fleet, at no expense, and at speed never before 
thought ofi I have been directed by some scientific gentle- 
men to bring the matter before you." 

On the 5th Oct. he again wrote: — " I received your most 
instructive letter, and I trust it (the invention) will not turn 
out like the mouse and the mountain. To give you some 
idea of this great power, it is of very simple construction. There 
is but one wheel in the work, and the power can be raised to 
any imaginable height ; this power turns the wheel, and the 
wheel turns the crank, and it will be found that no such 
simple, useful, and practicable invention has ever come under 
your notice. It is equally applicable to propel by either sea 
or land ; either the largest ship or the simplest mill or loom 
can be driven by it, with the same ease ; and the power can 
be raised in proportion to the necessity for it. It is taken 
from the clock, the mill, and the loom combined together. I 
have not the least doubt of the success of my invention. I 
have given it many trials, and prod\iced very satisfactory 
results, but unfortimately I am not in a position, for want of 
capital, to carry out this great invention ; it may fall bac^ 
another century, if something does not arise to my aid. I 
have spent a great deal of money on this matter.'* 

XXIV. Mr. P , a gentleman of a very igenious turn of 

mind, writing from Cheshire, 29th Jan., 1856, says : — " I 
have not been brought up a mechanist in any shape, but in- 
vention and ingenuity are natural to all our family. Like 
many other fools, I spent about nine months in trying to dis- 


cover perpetual motioii. Now, Sir Walter Scott tells us 
such a thing can never be done, but were he here I could 
convince him to the contrary, for I discovered it in my first 
attempt, which was by attraction onwards on a level plane, 
and then by ever-counterbalancing gravitation backwards down 
an inclined plane. I secondly tried it on by leverage; I 
worked at it about six months, levers, wheels, cranks, and 
everything else innumerable, and the further I went the 
nearer I got to perpetual stand-still. In my third attempt I 
considered that in Hydrostatics the same thing that finds its 
centre of gravitation upwards, in Pneumatics finds its centre 
of gravity downwards ; for instance, drop a piece of wood, it 
falls; place that same piece under water, it rises ; so here, 
by a very simple contrivance, I got up and down perpetual 
motion to full perfection, but they all amount to nothing ; 
I cast them aside as mere playthings, for all the power they 
can ever give is taken up in moving themselves." 

XXV. Mr. A , writing from Ireland, dated Bally- 

watter, 20th Feb., 1856, speaks of a "motive power" he 
has discovered, of which he states : — " It will prove safe, 
speedy and economical, though of astonishing power ; it will 
be uniform and steady in operation, and at the highest 
velocity perfectly within the control of one man, I may say 
boy. When properly adjusted, it may also for hours, indeed 
for days, be left to its own discretion ; especially if by mechan- 
ism oil be kept to its very few bearings. The power is a 
combination of weight, as the first mover, with the power of 
the lever, to which is added velocity as the result of both, 
and which varies with the amoimt of both." 

XXVI. Mr. B , of Bermondsey, 28th July, 1857, says: 

— ii Sir, — ^I have (through curious circumstances) discovered 
* perpetual motion.' It will be a wonderful engine, as it can 
be constructed to keep in motion (without the least assistance 
of anybody) everlastingly. I have not the means of carrying 
it on by myself, therefore I want somebody with money to 
assist me in doing so." 


XXVII. Another Mr. B , WheyhiU, Andover, Hants, 

15th Oct., 1857, writes ;— " Sir, — I beg permission to inform 
you that I am in a position to prove positively that motive 
power to any -amount for propelling all kinds of machinery 
may be maintained without any cost whatever, save the 
wearing of the machinery by friction. This invaluable 
invention supersedes the steam-engine, but I cannot proceed 
to a public development without capital." 

XXVIII. The last communication that will be here noticed 
was made by enclosing a printed circular, giving notice that 
— "Speedily will be published, dedicated to the British 
people, a Treatise on the discovery and application of a 
Continuous, Increasing, and Self-generating Motive Power, 
whereby the agency of steam is superseded in mechanical 
enterprises. By John Henry Vries, Esq., M.D." In this 
work the prospectus states : — " The Inventor enters into 
details relative to the Pneumatic Engine, of whose utility, as 
applied to practical purposes, Dr. V. is the discoverer.* 
Oeneral remarks follow (it adds), wherein the labours of 
Watt, Erichsen, Sir Humphrey Davy, and others, are dwelt 
«pon, &c., &c." Only a limited number of copies are pro- 
mised, at the price of 50s. each, 

15. It is needless to extend personal narrative or correspon- 
dence as indicative of the general diffusion of a desire to 
discover the solution of the problem of a perpetuum mobile,* 
in each instance adduced, however, will be found charac- 
teristic traits of the progress, hopes, disappointments, and 
untiring zeal that distinguishes the various inventors of this 
4Drder. Those who read for the first time these statements of 
devotedness to what seems little ^better than laborious idle- 
aess ; and peruse the collected examples of published plans 

• Dr. J. R Vries, in January, 1853, had granted him provisional 
protection for six months, for " tnprovements in obtaining Motive 
tower," but not having been proceeded with, has become void- He 
employed electricity, the gases from water, a generator, and a rotatory 


for Perpetual Motion; and find that men have been so 
enamoured with these schemes that for three centuries they 
have not only continued patenting abortive efforts to main- 
tain self-motive power, but rather increase than diminish in 
avidity to perpetuate their errors, will admit that it becomes 
matter for serious inquiry, Have Mathematicians and Mecha- 
nicians exhausted their powers of demonstration ? Who is 
amenable for the evil which somewhere or other undoubtedly 
does exist to a lamentable extent ; so much so, indeed, as to 
be a reflection on the intelligence of the present age of 
boasted enlightenment ? We shall proceed to examine in 
order, the several facts connected with this remarkable subject, 
according to the various aspects in which it is generally 

16. Perpetual Motion either is, or is not, attainable. We 
do not pretend to decide the question, but merely to show 
that much may be said on both sides. They who engage in 
experiments to discover Perpetual Motion, as well as they 
who undertake to disprove its possibility, equally find them- 
selves beset with difficulties. It proves a paradox to both. 

17. It is accepted by most scientific men that Perpetual 
Motion is impossible, because no body can at the same time 
be heavier and lighter than itself. But may there not, after 
all, be exceptions to this law, as in some other laws, stated 
in equally general terms? Thus, although water is said 
always to find its level, and heavy bodies to fall lowest, — yet> 
no one disbelieves in capillary attraction, or that the heavy 
fluid, carbonic acid gas, rises to a moimtain's height. 

18. The eminent French mathematician and astronomer 
Philip de la Hire, bom in 1640, died in I7I8. At the age 
of about 38 years he offered a demonstration on the impos. 
sibility of Perpetual Motion,* which it^would seem has never 
been improved on for 182 years ; and although the fact of its 
existence has been repeated by numerous >vriters, it never 

* See page 102, and Appendix D. 


appears to have occurred to any to reproduce it ; bis name, 
but not bis reasoning, bas been reiterated during tbe above 
period as sufficient to warn all projectors from any furtber 
pursuit of their favourite schemes. To say the least, such 
indifference is indefensible. Authorities are not wanting who 
employ bis reasoning, but silence on this fact left the me- 
chanic to suppose that something even still more conclusive 
against him lay hid in the closets of the learned. The wonder 
with many was, what M. de la Hire could have said so de- 
cisive and iiifallible. We now have his reasons before us ; 
and we learn that they leave Gravesande, Bernoulli, and 
many eminent Continental mathematicians in doubt whether 
Perpetual Motion is impossible, and consequently whether 
M. de la Hire may not have offered too sweeping a denuncia- 
tion against its possibility. The demonstration, intended to 
apply generally, does actually but take into consideration, as 
data, schemes previously known to be fallacious ; therefore, 
such demonstration, however clearly unfavourable to one 
class of schemes, may not strictly apply to an entirely dif- 
ferent order of inventions. As late as Nicholson (1800), we 
find this opinion supported. We may remark, for instance, 
that every demonstration takes for granted the free, unre- 
strained action of gravity. But suppose a certain arrange- 
ment could be introduced to frustrate this free action of a 
rolling or falling body, at some desired point, its liberation to 
be followed by a like suspension, and so" on; such a modifi- 
cation would be beyond th^ range of the existing mathe- 
matical reasoning, which had never contemplated the element 
now supposed practicable. These examples may be paralleled 
by supposing theorems and problems relating to the action of 
a cbiled spring, which would satisfy every one in regard to 
certain facts, but demonstrate nothing as to results attending 
the added regulating effect of a pendulum, assuming that to 
represent an unknown element, the something wanted, and 
alike sought in either case. Surely the greater the danger 
and folly of following Perpetual Motion, from believing it 


attainable, the greater is the necessity for reducing- the qnes* 
tion to its true conditions, and satisfactorily settling the 
inquiry. An inventor desires to ascertain, not one, but all 
the difficulties that he may expect will frustrate lus attaining 
his object. Knowing the real difficulty is next to being half- 
way to the attainment of his search. Here it is, however, 
that Mathematics ceases to assist him. It predicts nothing ; 
it makes no discovery in mechanical invention. 

19. Taking their tone from the strongly-expressed objec- 
tions raised, and clearly and ably defined and demonstrated 
by Mathematicians, by Natural Philosophers, and Scientific 
Bodies, the public voice has, for more than a hundred years, 
been directed against Perpetual Motion as a dream, a delu- 
sion, a chimera, an ignis fatuus. It is likened to Alchemy 
and to the Squaring of the Circle. Censure is of the easiest 
possible acquirement. Few are aware how difficult it is to 
steer a medium course, and that, while there is no wisdom 
shown in abuse, it actually requires some skill, some informa- 
tion, and not a little practice, to praise or censure discrimi- 
nately. It is not by displaying a nervous irritability that 
shrinks from all explanation, other than reiterated stale plati- 
tudes, that minds above mediocrity are to be satisfied on 
scientific matters- Why should a Perpetual Motion inven- 
tion be pursued, more than other, timidly and secretly? 
More, perhaps, for one reason than any other ; because per- 
sons who profier friendly advice go so far out of their way, 
to cover their own ignorance of the matter, by offering 
false, and consequently offensive rather than convincing 

20. Incessant failure does not, of itself, offer sufficient 
argument against the possibility of Perpetual Motion. The 
history of all science affords abundant evidence of this fact. 
Such opponents affect to despise Alchemy, the precursor of 
Chemistry; false enough in itself, and yet where would 
Chemistry have been at this day had Alchemy been unknown? 
Necessity often, but more frequently accident, led to the dis- 


covery of many early inyentions. In modem times, most 
discoveries are made solely by a train of scientific reasoning. 

21. Another frequent but false argument is the oflTering of 
disparaging opinions drawn from absurd contrasts; as if 
failure in one invention or pursuit afforded cogent reasons 
against the possibility of some other diametrically opposite 
invention or pursuit* This favourite course of weak oppo- 
nents, is too ridiculous an estimate of the proper method of 
settling such disputed points, to require farther comment. 

22. Inutility is the presumed consequence of an impossible 
experiment, and no one can deny the fact. But on what 
ground is the experiment itself assumed to be impossible? 
It does not show very good common sense to argue without 
a sensible reason. What was the use of rubbing a small 
piece of amber ?— or noticing the quivering of a dead frog's 
legs, or the action of copper and silver laid on the tongue ? 
In a word, of what use is the electric telegraph ? 

23. But the most invidious distinction and the weakest 
argument adopted by well-meaning persons is, that the pursuit 
leads to " wasting time and fortune.*' We have no wish to 
uphold improvidence, but let us ask, what pursuit in life is 
ensured against this species of loss ? That it is not peculiar 
to making geometrical drawings and innocently motionless 
wheels we feel well assured ; nay, we doubt whether do- 
mestic life, with its many frivolous amusements and accom- 
plishments, is always equally thrifty in expenditure, with 
these well-abused Inventors. If we admit our opinions to be 
swayed by such representations, how much have the inventors 
of Rotatory Engines, Screw Propellers, and a thousand other 
schemes, to answer for on the score of vast unproductive ex- 
penditure ! 

24. Lastly, — It is a singular want of liberality to impeach 
the understtinding of any one who, for any reason whatever, 
attempts the discovery of Perpetual Motion. It is not too 
much to say, that there is scarcely any ingenious youthful 
engineer or machinist who has not more or less given hi» 


mind to solving the problem. Infatuation is not confined to 
the pursuit of Perpetual Motion ; and without attempting or 
intending the least apology for spending a lifetime or fortune, 
as a worthy employment of the one or the other, on a matter 
of such apparently second-rate value, yet, what is unjust in 
relation to arts and sciences generally, for the acts of a few 
of their weaker followers, is equally unjust in the present 
instance, which charges on thousands the foibles of a few 
eccentric individuals — a class of enthusiasts from which, un- 
happily, no pursuit and no walk in life is entirely free. 

25. Opposition in the right direction might effect much good. 
A mathematician of an inventive turn of mind would, in en- 
deavouring to prove the impossibility of Perpetual Motion, be 
in a fair way to discovery (if within mortal reach), as com- 
pared to the cleverest mechanic, seeing nothing before him 
but its ready achievement. The first would seek difficulties 
and ponder them ; the other would see a machine in motion 
even before it was made ; and we all know the danger of 
over confidence. Theoretically, Perpetual Motion may be ac- 
tually neither impossible nor absurd ; not so, however, the 
many pretended self-motive machines to which precipitation 
has given rise, all abundantly absiird. If the theory be sound, 
then in practice, have all results to which it has led been 
most unfortunate; whether considered in reference to in- 
ventors or to opponents. 

26. We have, in this tantalizing pursuit, only found an in- 
genious lock, for which we want now to find a key. The key 
is all that is wanting. Many set but on the search for it, 
declaring its discovery to be of very easy attainment ; ex- 
perience has taught some humility, but posterity follows 
in their footsteps. Many an ardent student feels assured he 
has all but found it — such a mere trifle wanting. A few 
declare they know exactly where it is, and are. providing in- 
struments for its recovery. Several hasty aspirants have 
published their good fortime, to avoid piracy. Two foimd 
it, but alas! it has followed them to their graves; so 


that, after all this boastful parade, the key is not yet forth- 

27. It is sufficient stimulus to the human mind, in entering 
upon any great undertaking, to beliere in its possibility. 
What has been done by one may be done by another ; so all 
reasonably argue. Now no doubt, what has tended more than 
anything else to keep alive the pursuit of Perpetual Motion, 
is^ aB idea of its being merely a lost invention, and, therefore, 
ttndoubtedly possible. The scientific sage, however, views all 
these schemes alike as fallacies and absurdities ; he can only 
see in thent Nature opposed to herself, which is quite un- 

28. Implicit credulity. Ho less thatl unlimited scepticism it, 
has been well observed, evidences mental imbecility. The mul- 
titude adopt the popular opinion ; and the common belief of 
scientific meii, and through them scientific treatises, being 
i^ainst the possibility of Perpetual Motion, it is self-evident 
which is the popular side. And there is little in the 
"Whole arcana of scientific knowledge to warrant any strikingly 
opposite view. Half a dbzeii scientific authorities ranged 
against some hundreds is not a very encouraging spectacle. 
And such is a true picture of the case. 

5S9. Even Science is fallible ; but Mechanics is not a science 
open to the discovery of new laws, as in Chemistry. If we 
seek for argument in favour of the possibility of Perpetual 
Motion, we must believe it attainable on known laws, by 
means which in no way infringe them, and which themselves 
only offer additional proof of their stability. Of this there 
can be no reasonable doubt. And Mathematicians, too, are 
correct, as f ai* Jts they go, and where they stop. 

30. The only appeal that can be made in apology for the 
pursuit of Perpetual Motion, is derivable from the results 
represented to have been obtained by the Marquis of 
Worcester in one instance, and by Orffyreus in another. All 
the circumstances relating to their singular inventions excite 
our curiosity, raise our scepticism, and induce us to pause ia 



our decision. Let us first consider the inventors personally ;- 
and secondly their inventions and the circumstances attend- 
ing their exhibition. The two men were of very different 
character and position in life. The first noble by birth, of 
ancient lineage, loyal to the extent of sacrificing his property 
in support of the cause of Charles I., and evidencing by hi& 
prayers, his truly religious sentiments. About or before 1648 
(as the King died 1649), he exhibited his wheel, or perpetual 
motion, in the Tower, before his Majesty, two Extraordinary 
Ambassadors, the Duke of Richmond, Duke Hamilton, most 
part of the Court, and Sir William Belford, Lord Lieutenant 
of the Tower. We have to consider the upright character of 
the Marquis, his having invented the steam-engine, his 
worthiness in all respects, and the circumstances here de- 
tailed, and then ask ourselves : — Little as Science favours any 
belief in such an invention, can we see any reasonable 
grounds for error in this great experiment, or believe that a 
person so distinguished, and so much to be admired in all 
other respects, could thus boldly and recklessly deceive him- 
self, his noble company, and the public : taking ten years or 
upwards to elaborate and record a gross falsehood } It seems 
incredible, and true respect for the Marquis's memory will 
go far to maintain doubts respecting the infallibility of all ma- 
thematical demonstrations adverse to the possibility of a self- 
motive power. Secondly : — 

31. Orfiyreus was of humble origin, versatile talents, 
fickle, discontented, unsettled, irregular, and eccentric. He 
was ambitious, boasting, and the very man to raise up 
enemies. Between 1712 and 1718 he made and destroyed in 
succession four wheels or machines. He had learnt the art 
of clock-making, and several mechanical arts, and is supposed 
to have constructed or put these wheels together himself. 
He had a princely patron, who wished to obtain practical 
results from the invention for manufacturing and other opera- 
tions. A misunderstanding ensues ; and from that time to his 
death, in 1745 — at least twenty-eight years — the subject lies 


dormant, and the invention dies with him. This last fact, 
coupled with the wheel having raised so great a weight as 
70 lbs., makes a doubtful case still more doubtful ; and par- 
ticularly when, about the same time, Geiser imposed on the 
German public with a mere piece of clockwork, as a true 
perpetual motion. 

32. Next, as to the inventions of these two remarkable 
characters : — 

The Marquis of Worcester's wheel was fourteen feet in 
diameter ; it was rotated by the action of forty 50 lb. weights 
— 2,000 lbs. — an enormous weight, requiring some very 
laborious operations of the carpenter, to erect a sufficiently 
strong framework. Its completion must have taken some 
time, and led to frequent visits from the noble inventor, as 
well as experiments to test its correct working, before offer- 
ing a practical demonstration before majesty. 

33. Orffyreus's fourth or last wheel, at Hesse Cassel, was 
twelve feet in diameter, fourteen inches broad, made of light 
oak framing, and covered with oil-cloth. It would revolve 
either way, and this alone casts a shade of doubt on there 
being any deception in practice with it. But, strange to say, 
it had power enough to raise 70 lbs. to a considerable height. 
Its operations were seen and attested by so many, that these 
broad facts rest not alone on the inventor's authority. It 
was so ingeniously made, that M. Gravesande wrote to Sir 
Isaac Newton on the subject; and his letter and mathe- 
matical reasonings, in reference to the matter, appear in his 
works, edited by Professor Lalande, 1774. 

34. The subject of Perpetual Motion opposes paradox to 
paradox. It is[J^ viewed both as being most simple and 
most difficult to find. The learned justify both its possibility 
and impossibility. Many mechanics believe it possible ; but 
of the only two accepted cases, both 'prove secrets. Its pur- 
suit always commences in confidence, only to end in doubt. 
It is as near being discovered now as it was three hundred 
years ago ; it was then tried, and is now beginning. Inventors 


stand at cro^s-roads, arguing as to which is the right 
path ; although there are only two roads, all are allured to 
take the wrong. Of two men supposed to have got into the 
right track, some think both were impostors, and many be- 
lieve that^ one at least deserved no better character. Most 
inventors reap honour, or at least commiseration ; here they 
are assailed with opprobrium. Such b the fate of this 
paradox of paradoxes. 

35. It is a singular coincidence, that the^ only two accre- 
dited ix^ventions acting as evidences of Ferpetu^ Mption, one 
about 1649, the other 1712, should both have been treasured by 
their inventors, and yet be lost to posterity. Nothing satis-' 
factory can be advanced to justify secrecy under such circum-r 
stances. If due to accident, it may have been unavoidable ; if 
otherwise, it evinces a narrow selfish principle, to the sus- 
picion of which no man should lay himself open. Our belief 
in either is necessarily wavering. We view each with 
suspicion. Our confidence is shaken by known facts, and 
receives i^p confirmation from any results obtained by those 
who thus withhold &om us that evidence, the truth of which 
we ourselves might easily have tested. 

3Q, Pisbelief in the possibility of Perpetual Motion per- 
vades all scientific classes of society, from whom the popular 
tone is taken. Yet among scientific men it is often disbelief 
with a mental reservation. The most incredulous mathema- 
tician would like to examine a so-called perpetual motion, 
while he would scout the idea of listening to any attempted 
proof of the multiplication of two equal amounts to produce 
an unequal one. It is in the very nature of mathematical 
fmd mechanical science to afibrd evidence that runs entirely 
counter to the idea of self-motive machinery. At the same 
time, as scientific attainments enlarge the understanding, they 
could have no effect to prejudice the mpst learned against 
receiving ocidar demonstration of any fact on this subject, 
however opposed to preconceived views. 

37* There are only a limited number of methods which at 



the utmost can be expected, by the most sanguine, to offer a 

transient hope of success ; as wheels, with solid or fluid 

weights arranged somewhere around their peripheries. Such 

plans are capable of analysis ; but, if complicated, are all the 

more likely to prove abortiye in results. It is not to be ex* 

pected that the discovery, if to be made at all, will ever be 

the result of haphazard experiment. Ignorance has already 

done its work, and no one should now bave the presumption 

to attempt it, unprovided with a large fund of intelligence* 

and no small ability in experimental investigations generally ; 

remembering — 

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing : 
Prink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring : 

for, as sad experience truly shows—* 

' There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain. 

38. Appearances are every way so much opposed to offering 
any plausible hope of success, that all the wisest can say 
amoimts to no more than-— -It may be found ; or, it may never 
be found ; and, if found, the discoverer will probably establish 
the fame of others quite as much as, if not more than, his 
own. The insufficiency of the only supposed means of solving 
the problem — ^namely, by contriving a wheel so that all the 
weights on one side shall be con« 
stantly farther from the centre than 
the weights of the opposite side — 
has been attempted to be shown in 
a palpable manner by Desaguliers 
(see pages 79 and 89) ; but the 
author has invented a model appa« 
ratus of a more convincing cha* 
racter, being an actual wheel, as 
represented in the annexed diagram. 
We have here a wheel A B, having a 
number of spokes, each terminating, 

at or beyond the periphery, with a weight. It is represented 
with all the weights extended farthest on the right hand side. 


Now, on giving it a reverse revolution, all these weights 
will recede, and the weights on the left hand side be extended 
in like manner. Yet will nothing be gained ; in every posi- 
tion it will remain neutral. It consists of spokes, as A a and 
B b, each terminating at their ends A and B in compound 
levers, or lazy-tongs, while their opposite ends a and b pass 
through a hole drilled in the axle ; and so for each spoke, which 
must have a weight equal to the weight of the opposite end. 
Spokes thus made, when vertical on the top side of the wheel, 
are extended, while the opposite bottom spoke is depressed 
or shortened ; and so on with each.* 

39. In conclusion, we would briefly observe that we think 
a careful perusal of all that has been gathered respecting 
Perpetual Motion clearly establishes that much remains to be 
done to prove th^ impossibility of practically solving this 
knotty problem ; and that a full demonstration of the diffi- 
culties that environ it is worthy of being attempted, even by 
the most exalted mathematicians. It is not requisite that 
they should descend to the level of the most ordinary minds, 
but leave it for others to reduce their elaborated reasoning 
on the subject to some generally comprehensible form. We 
fear the proposal partakes too much of the difficulty of 
proving a negative ; but still, as the attempt has been made 
by celebrated savans, and is generally considered insufficient ; 
and as data may have been wanting, which we conceive £v 
collection gf the chief known examples will supply; we re- 
commend the consideration of this matter to all geometers. 
In his Lives of the Poets, Dr. Johnson characterises the 
" Dunciad" as a work " of which the design is to ridicule such 
studies as are either hopeless or useless, as either pursue 
what is unattsiinablQj or what, if it be attained, is of no use." 

* The spokes can only slide up or down while verticaly in conse- 
quence of a ring or rim around them, placed to act as a shoulder against 
the axle, so long as the spokes are inwards, and noi in a vertical posi-. 
tion ; otherwise they would act at an angle of 45®. The shoulder of 
each spoke is small enough to slip freely through the hole in which it 
isHdes in the axle, when the same becomes vertical durmg rotation. 


It is difficult to surmise to what extent Pope thus benefitted 
literature ; but it is certain that all the minor *^ Dunciads," 
in lashing Perpetual Motion, have failed to rid Natural 
Philosophy of many misgivings respecting its feasibility ; and 
it is either impossible, and the Marquis of Worcester was him- 
self strangely deceived ; or it may be possible, and the noble 
inventor of the steam-engine remain Worthy of his high 
character as a truthful narrator of facts : quite incapable of 
misrepresenting, much less elaborately falsifying them. In a 
mathematical point of view. We think this subject is far from 
being exhausted ; and, after what has been advanced, may 
very properly be considered as claiming grave consideration. 
And that, scientifically examined, it is a mark of mere 
shallowness and querulousness to attempt the substitution of 
ridicule and satire for the more difficult, but consistent course 
of sound, close reason and argument, such as the wonted 
sobriety and severity of scientific criticism accords to its 
investigations generally* 

♦^* The printing of this work had progressed too far to introduce, iit 
its proper place, the demonstration of Professor Airy in favour of 
Perpetual Motion being possible. It is taken from a copy of the Cam- 
bridge Philosophical Society's Transactions, in the British MuseUm, 
and forms the last article in the Addenda. 






John Wilkins, an ingenious and learned Bishop of Chester, 
was born near Daventry, in Northamptonshire, in 1614, and 
died 1672. He was well versed in mechanical science, and 
his writings display an extensive acquaintance with a variety 
of ancient authorities on every matter on which he discourses. 
He is the most exact writer of the seventeenth century on 
the subject of Perpetual Motion, examining it thoroughly, 
with admirable acuteness as well as candour. His celebrated 
work, entitled " Mathematical Magic," is divided into two 
books, the second quaintly designated " Daedalus," after that 
ancient inventor. Among the works he has briefly quoted 
in marginal notes, we may mention more at large — " A Trea- 
tise on Continuall Motions, by Joannes Taisnierus, a public 
Professor of Rome, Ferraria, and other Vniuersities in Italic " 
— no date, but afterwards printed with other works, 1579, 


2 PEBPETxruM mobile; 

quarto. Also " A Dialogue concerning Perpetual Motion, 
by Thomas Tymme, Mynister," London, 1612, quarto. He 
does not, however, allude to another of the same period, 
"De Inventione JEterni Motoric, b7 James Zabaeella, 
Teacher of Logic at Padua," where ho died 1589 ; his book 
was published at Francfort, 1618. The ninth, thirteenth, 
fourteenth, and fifteenth chapters of Bishop Wilkins' work, 
second book, here follow : — 

CHAP. IX. — Of a Perpetual Motion — The seeming facility and 
real difficulty of any such contrivance— The several ways whereby 
it hath been attempted, particularly by Chymistry. 

It is the chief inconvenience of all the automata before- 
mentioned,* that they need a frequent repair of new strength, 
the causes whence their motion does proceed being subject 
to fail, and come to a period ; and therefore it would be worth 
our enquiry to examine whether or no there may be made 
any such artificial contrivance, which might have the principle 
of moving from itself, so that the present motion should con- 
stantly be the cause of that which succeeds. 

This is that great secret in Art which, like the Philosopher's 
Stone in Nature, hath been the business and study of many 
more refined wits, for divers ages together ; and it may well 
be questioned whether either of them as yet hath ever been 
found out ; though if this have, yet, like the other, it is not 
plainly treated of by any author. 

Not but there are sundry discourses concerning this subject, 
but they are rather conjectures than experiments. And though 
many inventions in this kind may at first view bear a great 
shew of probability, yet they will fail, being brought to trial, 
and will not answer in practice what they promised in specu- 
lation. Any one who hath been versed in these experiments 
must needs acknowledge that he hath been often deceived in 
his strongest confidence; when the imagination hath con- 
trived the whole frame of such an instrument, and conceives 
that the event must infallibly answer its hopes, yet then does 
it strangely deceive in the proof, and discovers to us some 
defect which we did not before take notice of. 

* Various milli, chariots, clocks, &o., &c. 


Hence it is, that you shall scarce talk with any one who 
hath never so little smattering in these arts, but he will 
instantly promise such a motion, as being but an easy 
atchievement, till further trial and experience hath taught 
him the difficulty of it. There being no enquiry that does 
more entice with the prohability and deceive with the subtilty. 

I shall briefly recite the several ways whereby this hath 
been attempted, or seems most likely to be effected, thereby 
to contract and facilitate the enquiries of those who are 
addicted to these kind of experiments ; for when they know 
the defects of other inventions, they may the more easily 
avoid the same or the like in their own. 

The ways whereby this hath been attempted may be 
generally reduced to these three kinds : — 

1. By Chymical Extractions. 

2. By Magnetical Virtues. 

3. By the Natural Affection of Gravity. 

1. The discovery of this hath been attempted by Chymistry. 
Paracelsus and his followers have bragged, that by their 
separations and extractions, they can make a little world 
which shall have the same perpetual motions with this 
microcosm, with the representation of all meteors, thunder, 
snow, rain, the courses of the sea in its ebbs and flows, and 
the like. But these miraculous promises would require as 
great a faith to believe them, as a power to perform them ; 
and the' they often talk of such great matters, — 

At nusquam totos inter qui talia curant, 
Apparet ullus, qui re miracula tanta 
Comprobet — 

yet we can never see them confirmed by any real experiment ; 
and then, besides, every particular author in that art hath 
such a distinct language of his own (all of them being so 
full of allegories and affected obscurities), that 'tis very hard 
for any one (imless he be thoroughly versed amongst them) 
to find out what they mean, much more to try it. 

One of these ways (as I find it set down) jBtten.Mathem. 
is this: — Mix five ounces of ? with an B6creat,prob.nB. 
equal weight of % ; grind them together with ten ounces 
of sublimate; dissolve them in a cellar upon some marble 
for the space of four days, till they become like oil olive ; 

4 PEBPBTUUM mobile; 

distil this with fire of chaff, or driving fire, and it will 
sublime into a dry substance ; and so, by repeating of 
these dissolvings and distillings, there will be at length pro- 
duced divers small attorns, which, being put into a glass well 
luted, and kept dry, will have a perpetual motion. 

I cannot say any thing from experience against this ; but 
methinks it does not seem very probable, because things that 
are forced up to such a vigorousness and activity as these 
ingredients seem to be by their frequent sublimings and disr 
tillings, are not likely to be of any duration. The more any 
thing is stretched beyond its usual nature, the less does it 
last; violence and perpetuity being no companions. And 
then, besides, suppose it true, yet such a motion could not 
well be applied to any use, which will needs take much from 
the delight of it. 

oeubratedinan Amongst the chymical experiments to this 
epigram b]/ Hugo purposc, may be reckoned up that famous 
Orotius, 11. motion^ invented by Cornelius Dreble, and 

made for King James ; wherein was represented the constant 
revolutions' of the sun and moon, and that without the 

EpUtadEmet. ^®^P ^^^her of Springs or weights. Marcellus 
turn de Lamp. Vranckhein, speaking of the means whereby it 
^***** was performed, he calls it ScintiUula animce 

mdgneiiccB mundi, seu astralis et insensibtlis sptritm ; being 
that grand secret, for the discovery of which, those dictators 
of philosophy, Democritus, Pythagoras, Plato, did travel 
unto the Gymnosophists and Indian Priests. The author 

EpisLadJaeo- himself, in his discourse upon it, does not 

um Begtm. at all rcveal the way how it was performed. 
But there is one Thomas Tymme, who was a familiar 
acquaintance of his, and did often pry into his works 
(as he professes himself), who affirms it to be done thus : 
By extracting a fiery spirit out of the mineral matter, 
joining the same with his proper air, which included in the 

Phiio»oph,Dia' axletree (of the first moving wheel), being 
logue, confer. 2, hollow, carrieth the other wheels, making a 
**^ continual rotation, except issue or vent be 

given in this hollow axletree, whereby the imprisoned spirit 
may get forth. 

What strange things may be done by such extractions, I 
know not, and therefore dare not condemn this relation as 
impossible ; but methinks it sounds rather like a chymical 


dream, than a philosophical truth. It seems this imprisoned 
spirit is now set at liberty, or else is grown weary, for the 
instrument (as I have heard) hath stood still for many years. 
It is here considerable that any force is weakest near the 
center of a wheel ; and therefore, though such a spirit might 
of itself have an agitation, yet 'tis not easily conceivable 
how it should have strength enough to carry the wheels about 
with it. And then, the absurdity of the author's citing this, 
would make one mistrust his mistake. He urges it as a 
strong argument against Copernicus ; as if, because Dreble 
did thus contrive in an engine the revolution of the heavens 
and the immoveableness of the earth, therefore it must needs 
follow that 'tis the heavens which are moved, and not the 
earth. If his relation were no truer than his consequence, it 
had not been worth the citing. 

CHAP. XIII. — Concerning several attempts of contriving a Perpetual 
Motion^ hy Magnetical Virtues* 

The second way whereby the making of a perpetual motion 
hath been attempted, is by Magnetical Virtues, which are not 
without some strong probabilities of proving effectual to this 
purpose ; especially when we consider that the heavenly revo- 
lutions (being as the first pattern imitated and aimed at in 
these attempts) are all of them performed by the help of 
these qualities. This great orb of earth, and all the other 
planets, being but as so many magnetical globes, endowed 
with such various and continual motions as may be most 
agreeable to the purposes for which they were intended. 
And, therefore, most of the authors who treat oubertdeMag. 
concerning this invention, do agree that the net cahcemPM- 
likeliest way to effect it, is by these kind of ^^^ Magnet, 1 4, 

,... ^ ^ C20. 


It was the opinion of Pet. Peregrinus, and there is an 

example pretended for it in Bettinus (apiar. 9, progym. 5, 
pro. 11) that a magnetical globe, or terella, ^^^ ^. 

r . .1^1 1 J 'i. 1 ij i Athanas. Ktr- 

bemg nghtly placed upon its poles, would of cherdeArteMag. 

itself have a constant rotation, like the diurnal net. i. 1. par. 2. 
motion of the earth. But this is commonly ^^^\^ ^^''^ 
exploded as being against all experience. 

Others think it possible so to contrive several pieces of 
steel and loadstone that, by their continual attraction and 

a. Tract, de 
miotu eontinuo. 

p€t4 tnotui, par. 

e. De VarteL 
rerum, 2. 9, a 48. 

De Magneto I. 


expulsion of one another, they may cause a 
perpetual revolution of a wheel. Of this opinion 
were » Taisner, ^ Pet. Peregrinus, and « Cardan, 
out of Antonius de Fantis. But D. Gilbert, 
who was more especially versed in magnetical 
experiments, concludes it to be a vain and 
groundless fancyl 
But amongst all these kinds of inventions, that is most 
likely, wherein a loadstone is so disposed that it shall draw 
unto it on a reclined plane a bullet of steel, which steel, as 
it ascends near to the loadstone, may be contrived to fall 
down through some hole in the plane, and so to return unto 
the place from whence at first it began to move ; and, being 
there, the loadstone will again attract it upwards till coming 
to this hole, it will fall down again ; and so the motion shall 
be perpetual, as may be more easily conceivable by this 
figure : — 

Suppose the loadstone to be represented at A B, which, 
though it have not strength enough to attract the bullet C 
directly from the groimd, yet may do it by the help of the 
plane E F. Now, when the bullet is come to the top of this 
plane, its own gravity (which is supposed to exceed the 
strength of the loadstone) will make it fall into that hole at E ; 
and the force it receives in this fall will carry it with such a 
violence unto the other end of this arch, that it will open the 
passage which is there made for it, and by its return will 
again shut it ; so that the bullet (as at the first) is in the 
same place whence it was attracted, and, consequently, must 
move perpetually. 


But however this invention may seem to be of such strong 
probability, yet thete are sundry particulars which may prove 
it insufficient : for — 

1. This bullet of steel must first be touched, and have its 
several poles, or else there can be little or no attraction of it. 
Suppose C in the steel to be answerable unto A in the stone, and 
to B ; in the attraction C D must always be directed answer- 
able to A B, and so the motion will be more difficult ; by 
reason there can be no rotation or turning round of the bullet, 
but it must slide up with the line C D, answerable to the 
axis A B. 

2. In its fall from E to G, which is motus elementarts^ and 
proceeds from its gravity, there must needs be a rotation of 
it ; and so 'tis odds but it happens wrong in the rise, the 
poles in the bullet being not in the same direction to those in 
the magnet ; and if in this reflux it should so fall out, that D 
should be directed towards B, there should be rather a flight 
than an attraction, since those two ends do repel, and not 
draw one another. 

3. If the loadstone A B have so much strength, that it 
can attract the bullet in F, when it is not turned round, but 
does only slide upon the plane, whereas its own gravity would 
rowl it downwards ; then it is evident the sphere of its activity 
and strength would be so increased when it approaches much 
nearer, that it would not need the assistance of the plane, but 
would draw it immediately to itself without that help ; and 
so the bullet would not fall down through the hole, but 
ascend to the stone, and, consequently, cease its motion : for, 
if the loadstone be of force enough to draw the bullet on the 
plane, at the distance F B, then must the strength of it be 
sufficient to attract it immediately unto itself, when it is so 
much nearer as £ B. And if the gravity of the bullet be 
supposed so much to exceed the strength of the magnet, that 
it cannot draw it directly when it is so near, then will it not 
be able to attract the bullet up the plane, when it is so much 
further oflf. 

So that none of all these magnetical experiments, which have 
been as yet discovered, are sufficient for the effecting of a 
perpetual' motion, though these kind of qualities seem most 
conducible unto it ; and perhaps, hereafter, it may be con- 
trived from them. 


CHAP. XIV. — The seeming probability of effecting a Continual 
Motion by Solid Weights in a Hollow Wheel or Sphere, 

The third way whereby the making of a perpetual motion 
hath been attempted is by the Natural Affection of Gravity ; 
when the heaviness of several bodies is so contrived, that the 
same motion which they give in their descent, may be able to 
carry them up again. 

But (against the possibility of any such invention) it is 
L 17 De ^^^ objected by Cardan : — ^All sublunary bodies 
Var. R<yrum] 1. 9. have a direct motion either of ascent or descent ; 
«• 4»- which, because it does not refer to some term, 

therefore cannot be perpetual, but must needs cease when it 
is arrived at the place unto which it naturally tends. 

I answer, though this may prove that there is no natural 
motion of any particular heavy body which is perpetual, yet 
it doth not hinder, but that it is possible from them to con- 
trive such an artificial revolution as shall constantly be the 
cause of itself. 

Those bodies which may be serviceable to this purpose 
are distinguishable into two kinds : — 

1. Solid and consistent; as weights of metal, or the like. 

2. Fluid or sliding ; as water, sand, &c. 

Both these ways have been attempted by many, though 
with very little or no success. Other men's conjectures in 

D.Fiud. Tract ^^^ ^^'^^ 3'°^ ^^1 ®®® ®®* down by divers 
2. pa/r. 7, t. 2. c 4 authors. It would be too tedious to repeat 
* '^' them over, or set forth their draughts. 

I shall only mention two new ones, which (if I am not 
over-partial) seem altogether as probable as any of these 
kinds that have been yet invented ; and, till experience had 
discovered their defect and insufficiency, I did certainly con- 
clude them to be infallible. 

The first of these contrivances was by solid weights being 

placed in some hollow wheel or sphere, unto which they 

should give a perpetual revolution ; for, as the philosopher 

Arist Phy8.a.8, hath largely proved, only a circular motion can 

«• 12. properly be perpetual. 

But, for the better conceiving of this invention, it is requi- 
site that we rightly understand some principles in Trochilicks, 
or the art of wheel instruments ; as, chiefly, the relation 
Arist Mechan., bctwixt the parts of a wheel and those of a 
K6ra addrcx^ ballauce ; the several proportions in the semi- 



diameter of a wheel being answerable to the sides in a 
ballance, where the weight is multiplied according to its 
distance from the center. 

Thus, suppose the center to be at A, and the diameter of 
the wheel, D C, to be divided into equal parts (as is here 
expressed), it is evident, according to the former ground, that 
one pound at C will equiponderate to five pound at B, because 
there is such a proportion betwixt their several distances from 
the center. And it is not material whether or no these several 
weights be placed horizontally ; for though B do hang lower 
than C, yet this does ^ot at all concern the heaviness ; or 
though the plummet C were placed much higher than it is at 
E, or lower at F, yet would it still retain the same weight 
which it had at C ; because these plummets (as in the nature 
of all heavy bodies), do tend downwards by a strait line ; 
80 that their several gravities are to be measured by that part 
of the horizontal semidiameter which is directly either below 
or above them. Thus, when the plummet C shall be moved 
either to G or H, it will lose one-third of its former heavi- 
ness, and be equally ponderous as if it were placed in the 
ballance at number 3 ; and if we suppose it to be situated at 


PERPETUUM mobile; 

I or K, then the weight of it will lie wholly upon the center, 
and not at all conduce to the motion of the wheel on either 
side ; so that the strait lines which pass through the divisions 
of the diameter may seiTe to measure the heaviness of any 
weight in its several situations. 

These things thoroughly considered, it seems very possible 
and easie for a man to contrive the plummets of a wheel, that 
they may be always heavier in their fall, than in their ascent ; 
and so, consequently, that they should give a perpetual motion 
to the wheel itself; since it is impossible for that to remain 
unmoved as long as one side in it is heavier than the other. 

For the performance of this, the weights must be so 
ordered — 1. That in their descent they may fall from the 
center, and in their ascent may rise nearer to it. 2. That 
the fall of each plummet may begin the motion of that which 
should succeed it, as in the following diagram : — 

Where there are sixteen plummets, eight in the inward circle, 
and as many in the outward. (The inequality being to arise 
from their situation, it is therefore most convenient that the 
number of them be even.) The eight inward plummets are 


supposed to be in themselves so much heavier than the other, 
that in the wheel they may be of equal weight with those 
above them, and then the fail of these will be of sufficient 
force to bring down the other. For example, if the outward 
be each of them four ounces, then the inward must bs five ; 
because the outward is distant from the center nve of those 
parts whereof the inward is but four. Each pair of these 
weights should be joined together by a little string or chain, 
which must be fastened about the middle, betwixt the bullet 
and the center of that plummet which is to fall first, and at 
the top of the other. 

When these bullets, in their descent, are at their farthest 
distance from the center of the wheel, then shall they be 
stopped, and rest on the pins placed to that purpose ; and so, 
in their rising, there must be other pins to keep them in a 
convenient posture and distance from the center, lest, approach- 
ing too near unto it, they thereby become unfit to fall when 
they shall come to the top of the descending side. 

This may be otherwise contrived with some different cir- 
cumotances, but they will all redound to the same effect. By 
such an engine it seems very probable that a man may pro- 
duce perpetual motion ; the distance of the plummets from the 
center increasing with weight on one side, and their being tied 
to one another, causing a constant succession in their falling. 

But now, upon experience, I have found this to be falla- 
cious ; and the reason may sufficiently appear by a calculation 
of the heaviness cf each plummet, according to its several 
situation ; which may easily be done by those perpendiculars 
that cut the diameter, (as was before erplained, and is here 
expressed in five of the plummets on the descending side). 
From such a calculation it will be evident, that both the sides 
of this wheel will equiponderate ; and so consequently, that 
the supposed inequality whence the motion should proceed, is 
but imaginary and groundless. Cn the descending side, the 
heaviness of each plummet may be measured according to these 
numbers, (supposing the diameter of the wheel to be divided 
into twenty parts, and each of those subdivided into four) : — 



10.0 > The sum 24. ^o^ The sum 19. 


12 PERPETUUM mobile; 

On the ascending side, the weights are to be reckoned 
according to these degrees : — 




9.0 r The sum 24. 

5.3 \ 



The sum 19. 

The sum of which last numbers is equal with the former, 
and therefore both the sides of such a wheel in this situation 
will equiponderate. 

If it be objected, that the plummet A should be contrived 
to pull down the other at B, and then the descending side 
will be heavier than the other ; for answer to this, it is con- 
siderable — 

1. That these bullets towards the top of the wheel, cannot 
descend till they come to a certain kind of inclination. 

2. That any lower bullet hanging upon the other above it, 
to pull it down, must be conceived, as if the weight of it 
were in that point where its string touches the upper ; at 
which point this bullet will be of less heaviness in respect of 
the wheel, than if it did rest in its own place ; so that both 
the sides of it, in any kind of situation, may equiponderate. 

CHAP. XV. — Of composing a Perpetual Motion hy Fluid Weights — 
Concerning Archimedes his Water Screw — The great probability 
of accomplishing this enquiry by the help of that, with the fallible- 

\ ness of it upon experiment. 

That which I shall mention as th^ last way, for the trial of 
this experiment, is by contriving it in some Water Instrument ; 
which may seem altogether as probable and easie as any of 
the rest ; because that element, by reason of its fluid and 
subtle nature (whereby, of its own accord, it searches out the 
lower and more narrow passages), may be most pliable to the 
mind of the artificer. Now, the usual means for the ascent 
of water is either by suckers or forces, or something equiva- 
lent thereunto ; neither of which may be conveniently applied 
unto such a work as this, because there is required unto each 
of them so much or more strength, as may be answerable to 
the full weight of the water that is to be drawn up ; and 
then, besides, they move for the most part by fits and snatches, 
so that it is not easily conceivable, how they should conduce 


unto such a motion, which, by reason of its perpetuity, must 
be regular and equal. 

But, amongst all other ways to this purpose, that invention 
of Archimedes is incomparably the best, which is usually 
called Cochlea^ or the "Water Screw ; being framed by the 
helical revolution of a cavity about a cylinder. "We have not 
any discourse from the author himself concerning it, nor is it 
certain whether he ever writ anything to this purpose ; but if 
he did, yet, as the injury of time hath deprived us of many 
other his excellent works, so likewise of this amongst the rest. 

[Near five pages are occupied in describing the use of 
this screw, and the form and manner of making it ; then 
follows : — ^] 

The true inclination of the screw being found, together 
with the certain quantity of water which every helix does 
contain; it is further considerable, that the water by this instru- 
ment does ascend naturally of itself, without any violence or 
labour ; and that the heaviness of it does lie chiefly upon the 
centers or axis of the cylinder, both its sides being of equal 
weight (saith Ubaldus) ; so that, it should seem, ubaidus de co- 
though we suppose each revolution to have an «Wtfa,j.3,proj),4. 
equal quantity of water, yet the screw will remain with any 
part upwards, according as it shall be set, without turning 
itself either way; and, therefore, the least strength being 
added to either of its sides should make it descend, according 
to that common maxim of Archimedes — any d^ jSquipond, 
addition will make that which equiponderates ^^ppo'- 8. 
with another to tend downwards. 

But now, because the weight of this instrument and the 
water in it does lean wholly upon the axis, hence is it (saith 
Ubaldus} that the grating and rubbing of these axes against 
the sockets wherein they are placed, will cause some ineptitude 
and resistency to that rotation of the cylinder ; which would 
otherwise ensue upon the addition of the least weight to any 
one side ; but (saith the^ same author) any power that is 
greater than this resistency which does arise from the axis, 
will serve for the turning of it round. 

These things considered together, it will hence appear how 
a perpetual motion may seem easily contrivable. For, if there 
were but such a water-wheel made on this instrument, upon 
which the stream that is carried up may fall in its descent, it 
would turn the screw round, and by that means convey as 


PEKPETUUM mobile; 

much water up as is required to move it ; so that the motion 
must needs be continual, since the same weight which in its 
fall does turn the wheel is, by the turning of the wheel, 
carried up again. 

Or, if the water, falling upon one wheel, would not be 
forcible enough for this effect, why then there might be two 
or three, or more, according as the length and elevation of the 
instrument will admit ; by which means the weight of it may 
be so multiplied in the fall that it shall be equivalent to twice 
or thrice that quantity of water which ascends; as may be 
more plainly discerned by the following diagram : — 

Where the figure L M, at the bottom, does represent a wooden 
cylinder with helical cavities cut in it, which at A B is sup- 


posed to be covered over with tin plates, and three water- 
wheels upon it, H I K ; the lower cistern, which contains the 
water, being C D. Nov/, this cylinder being turned round, 
aU the water which from the cistern ascends through it, will 
fall into the vessel at E, and from that vessel being conveyed 
upon the water-wheel H, shall consequently give a circular 
motion to the whole screw. Or, if this alone Thcrcia another 
should be too weak for the turning of it, then Hkcwntrivaneeto 
the came water which fails from the wheel H, p^J^S^'apJ" 
being received into the other vessel F, may \pogym,iprop. 
from thence again descend on the wheel I, by J^* ^* ^^^ *^«** 
which means the force of it will be doubled, than *tis here pro 
And if this be yet unsufficient, then may the pond 
water which fails on the second wheel I, be received into the 
other vessel G, and from thence again descend on the third 
wheol at K ; and so for as many other wheels as the instru- 
ment is capable of. So that, besides the greater distance of 
these three streams from the center or axis by which they are 
made so much heavier, and besides that the fall of this out- 
ward water is forcible and violent, whereas the ascent of that 
within is natural, — besides all this, there is thrice as much 
water to turn the screw as is carried up by it. 

But, on the other side, if all the water falling upon one 
wheel would be able to turn it round, then half of it would 
serve with two wheels, and the rest may be so disposed of in 
the fall as to serve unto some other useful delightful ends. 

When I first thought of this invention, I could scarce for- 
bear, with Archimedes, to cry out evprjKa, evprjKa ; it seeming 
80 infallible a way for the effecting of a perpetual motion that 
nothing could be so much as probably objected against it ; 
but, upon trial and experience, 1 find it altogether insufiicient 
for any such purpose, and that for these two reasons : — 

1. The water that ascends will not make any considerable 
stream in the fall. 

2. This stream, tho' multiplied, will not be of force enough 
to turn about the screw. 

1. The water ascends gently, and by intermissions ; but it 
falls continually, and with force ; each of the three vessels 
being supposed full at the first, that so the weight of the 
water in them might add the greater strength and swiftness 
to the streams that descend from them. Now, this swiftness 
of motion will cause so great a difference betwixt them that 

16 PERPETUUM mobile; 

one of these little streams may spend more water in the fall 
than a stream six times bigger in the ascent, tho' we should 
suppose both of them to be continuate; how much more, 
then, when as the ascending water is vented by fits and inter- 
missions, every circumvolution voiding so much as is con- 
tained in one helix ; and, in this particular, one that is not 
versed in these kind of experiments may be easily deceived. 

But, secondly, tho' there were so great a disproportion, yet, 
notwithstanding, the force of these outward streams might 
well enough serve for the turning of the screw, if it were so 
that both its sides would equiponderate the water being in 
them (as Ubaldus hath afiurmed). But now, upon farther 
examination, we shall find this assertion of his to be utterly 
against both reason and experience. And herein does consist 
the chief mistake of this contrivance ; for the ascending side 
of the screw is made, by the water contained in it, so much 
heavier than the descending side, that these outward streams, 
thus applied, will not be of force enough to make them equi- 
ponderate, much less to move the whole, as may be more 
easily discern' d by this fig. : — 

Where A B represents a screw covered over, C D E one helix 
or revolution of it, C D the ascending side, E D the descend- 
ing side, the point D the middle ; the horizontal line C F 
shewing how much of the helix is filled with water, viz., of 
the ascending side, from C the beginning of the helix, to D 
the middle of it ; and on the descending side, from D the 
middle, to the point G, where the horizontal does cut the 
helix. Now, it is evident that this latter part, D G, is 


nothing near so much, and consequently not so heavy as the 
other, D C ; and thus is it in all the other revolutions, which, 
as they are either more or larger, so will the difficulty of this 
motion be increased. Whence it will appear that the outward 
streams which descend must be of so much force as to 
coimtervail all that weight whereby the ascending side in 
every one of these revolutions does exceed the other. And 
tho' this may be effected by making the water-wheels larger, 
yet then the motion will be so slow that the screw will not 
be able to supply the outward streams. 

There is another contrivance to this purpose, mentioned by 
Kircher de Magnete, 1. 2, p. 4, depending upon the heat of 
the sun and the force of winds; but it is liable to such 
abundance of exceptions that it is scarce worth the mention- 
ing, and does by no means deserve the confidence of any 
ingenious artist. 

Thus have I briefly explained the probabilities and defects 
of those subtle contrivances whereby the making of a per- 
petual motion hath been attempted. I would be loth to 
discourage the enquiry of any ingenious artificer by denying 
the possibility of effecting it with any of these mechanical 
helps ; but yet (I conceive) if those principles which concern 
the slowness of the power in comparison to the greatness of 
the weight were rightly understood and thoroughly considered, 
they would make this experiment to seem, if not altogether 
impossible, yet much more difficult than otherwise, perhaps, 
it will appear. However, the enquiring after it cannot but 
deserve our endeavours, as being one of the most noble 
amongst all these mechanical subtUties. And, as it is in the 
fable of him who dug the vineyard for a hid treasure, tho' he 
did not find the money, yet he thereby made the groimd more 
fruitful, so, tho' we do not attain to the effecting of this par- 
ticular, yet our searching after it may discover so many other 
excellent subtilties as shaU abundantly recompence the labour 
of our enquiry. 

And then, besides, it may be another encouragement to 
consider the pleasure of such speculations, ,^^.^j. ^ ^^-^ 
which do ravish and sublime the thoughts <rti(m^, 
with more clear angelical contentments. Archi- ce^^'Xan.TzIi 
medes was generally so taken up in the delight zes, cml 2. HisL 
of these mathematical studies of this familiar ^-Vaier. Maxim- 
men (as Plutarch stiles them) that he forgot •^•^•'" 


both his meat and drink, and other necessities of nature ; 
nay, that he neglected the saving of his life, when that 
rude soldier, in the pride and haste of victory, would 
not give him leisure to finish his demonstration. What a 
ravishment was that, when, having found out the way to 
measure Hiero's crown, he leaped out of the bath, and (as if 
he were suddenly possessed) ran naked up and down, crying 
evprjKa, evfrrfKa / It is storied of Thales that, in his joy and 
gratitude for one of these mathematical inventions, he went 
presently to the Temple, and there offered up a solemn sacri- 
fice ; and Pythagoras, upon the like occasion, is related to 
have sacrificed a hundred oxen; the justice of Providence 
having so contrived it, that the pleasure which there is in the 
success of such inventions should be proportioned to the 
great diflB.culty and labour of their enquiry.* 

Of Continual Motion. By Joannes Taisnieeus ; prior 
to 1579. — In the library of the British Museum is an edition of 
" A very necessarie & profitable booke concerning Nauigation, 
compiled in Latin by Joannes Taisnierus, a public professor 
in Rome, Ferraria, and other universities in Italie of the 
Mathematicalles, named a Treatise of Continuall Motions; 
translated into English by Richard Eden." It is a black 
letter quarto tract, printed by Richard Jugge, without date, 
consisting of eighty-two pages. The first part is " Of the 
vertue of the Loadstone," and the second part is " Of con- 
tinual motion by the said stone Magnes." It was reprinted 
1579. In his introductory remarks, he observes, in allusion 
to continual motion, that it is — 

The thing which to this day in manner from the beginning 
of the world, great philosophers with perpetual studie and 
great labour, have endeavoured to bring to effect, and desired 
end, hath neverthelesse hitherto remayned eyther unknown 
or hydde, not without great damage & hynderance of most 
expert mathematicians. 

• Mathematical Magick, in two books, by Bishop Wilkins. 8vo. 
1707. Fifth edition. Book ii., called Dsdalus; or, Mechanical Motions. 


Referring now to the second part, we read : — 
From the begynnyng of the worlde, in manner all naturall 
philosophers & mathematitians, with great expences and 
labour, have attempted to fynde out a continuall motion or 
moovyng : yet imto this day have few or none atteyned to the 
true ende of their desyre. They have attempted to doo this 
with divers instrumentes & wheeles, & with quicksylver, not 
knowyng the vertue of this stone. Neyther can continual 
motion be founde by anyc other meanes, then by the stone 
Magnes, in this maner. Make a holowe case of sylver, after 
the fashion of a concave glasse, outwardly laboured with 
curious art of gravyng, not onely for ornament, but also for 
lyghtnesse ; the lyghter that it is, so much the more eassyer 
shal it be mooved, neyther must it be so pearced through, that 
such as are ignorant of the hyd secrete, may easyly perceyve it. 

[" The fourftie of the stone " is here engraved.] 

It must have on the inner syde certayne litle nayles & 
denticles or smal teeth of iron of one equal weyght, to be 
fastened on the border or margent, so that the one be no fur- 
ther distant from the other, then is the thycknesse of a beane 
or chicke pease. The sayd wheele also must be in all partes 
of equall weyght, then fasten the exiltree in the myddest, 
upon the whiche the wheele may tume, the exiltree remayn- 
jug utterly immoveable. To the whiche exiltree agayne shal 
be joyned a pynne of sylver, fastened to the same, & placed 
betweene.the two cases in the hyghest parte, whereon place 
the stone Magnes. Beyng thus prepared let it be fyrste 
brought to a rounde fourme, then (as is sayd) let the poles be 
founde : then the poles imtouched, the two contrarye sydes 
Ijdng betweene the poles, must be fyled & pullyshed, & the 
stone brought in maner to the fourme of an egge, & somewhat 
narower in those two sydes, lest the lower parte thereof 
shoulde occupie the inferior place, that it may touche the 
wallas of the case lyke a litle wheele. This done, place the 
stone upon the pynne, as a stone is fastened in a ryng, with 
such art, that the north pole may a litle enclyne toward the 
denticles, to the ende that the vertue thereof woorke not 
directly his impression, but with a certayne inclination geve 
his influence upon the denticles of iron. Every denticle 
therefore shall come to the north pole, & when by force of the 
wheele it shall somewhat passe that pole, it shaU come to the 

20 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

south part, whiche shall dryve it backe agayne ; whom then 
agayne the pole artike shall drawe as appeareth. And that 
the wheele may the sooner doo his office within the cases, in- 
close therein a litle calculus (that is) a litle rounde stone or 

pellet of copper or sylver, of suche quantitie, that it may com- 
modiously be receyved within any of the denticles : then when 
the wheeles shal be raysed up, the pellet or rounde weyght 
shal fal on the contrary parte. And whereas the motion of 
the wheele downwarde to the lowest part, is perpetuall, & 
the fall of the pellet, opposite or contrary, ever receyved 
within any two of the denticles, the motion shall be perpetuall, 
because the weyght of the wheele & pellet ever enclyneth to 
the centre of the earth, & lowest place. Therefore when it 
shal permit the denticles to rest about the stone, then shall it 
well serve to the purpose. The myddle places within the 
denticles ought so artificially to be made belowe, that they 
may aptly receive the fallyng pellet or plommet, as the fygure 
above declareth. And briefly to have wrytten thus much of 
continuall motion may suffice. 

Description of the Engraving — ^A, the stone ; B, the silver 
pinne ; E, calculus, a little rounde stone or small weyght. 


Pebpetuaii Motion. — In the "Theatrum Machinarum 
Generale," by Jacob Leupold, published at Leipsic, 1724, 
folio, appears an article, of which the following is a free and 
abridged translation : — 

The so-called machine to produce perpetual motion con- 
sists of a proper adjustment of weights. Such a machine is 
one that without external power would have a continual 
movement of its own, as long as its materials last. The 
search after this movement has become so general in the pre- 
sent day (prior to 1724), that the humblest mechanics enthu- 
siastically express certainty of their ability, had they time 
and money, to produce something of the kind to surprise the 
world. However, is there any subject after which so many 
thousands have longed, spent their money, industry, and 
time, as this same perpetual motion ? Dr. Becher has eight 
dissimilar inventions, all of which have interested the scientific 
world, one of the number being perpetual motion. Although 
the discovery of making gold would be the most honourable 
and praiseworthy thing in the world, yet not even that has been 
80 sought after as perpetual motion ; because the one requires 
a high knowledge of chemistry, and the other merely requir- 
ing that a certain weight at a distance from the axletree, 
should fall and rise without losing its power ; and it is here 
so many inventors have been deceived, from wanting proper 
mechanical knowledge. The machines most hopeful are 
those given in Figures 10 and 11. 

[For engravings and full account, see Appendix A.] 

The action of the foregoing plans, in each, tends to find 
the centre of gravity, and therefore after many trials were all 
found to cease movement. 

It still remains to find out this wonderful and undiscovered 
thing, which to the present time remains impossible both 
mathematically and mechanically, so far as we yet know. 
Great weight only increases friction, but there was a wheel or 
machine that did not weigh above forty pounds, and was nine 
feet diameter, which promised better results, yet failed like 
others, and so dissipated all hope of succeeding. 

Notwithstanding we hold that perpetual motion is not an 
impossibility, as has been shown to all the world by Coun- 

22 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

cillor Orflfyreus, and attested by the princely word of the 
Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, a prmce himself well grounded 
in the science of mechanics, and who so minutely scrutinised 
and observed this wonderful motion, which was with him on 
trial during two months ; all of which time he kept the 
machine in a sealed chamber. 

To all the seekers after perpetual motion the following 
remarks will be found most valuable : — 

1. That they must endeavour to construct one of the sim- 
plest of machines ; for the more material and workmanship, 
the less chance of durability. And if not found in such 
simple arrangement, it will be hid for ever. 

2. That it must be tried by experiment and not only on 
paper, for the friction and action can only be estimated by 

3. That unless groimded in the fundamental principles of 
mechanics, no one should attempt the project, as he will only 
lose time and money. ITie thousands who fail of success yet 
learn something of mechanics, and that one pound cannot 
move more than one pound, but always arrives at an equili- 

Peepetuax Syphon aitd Mill. — Leupold, in his " Thea- 
trum Machinanmi Generale," on Hydraulics, describes : — 

The water-wheel of a mill operated by a syphon. The 
inventor has here endeavoured to gain perpetual motion by 
constructing a syphon which at A has more water than at B, 
consequently more weight ; to lessen the waste of water at 
A, he makes the syphon smaller at its aperture ; so that the 
weight of A and B are equalised. Water, however, is 
weighed not by its quantity but its height, hence this plan did 
not succeed in this, and many other instances; and it has been 
tried to the ruin of many. Modifications of the principle on 
which this syphon is constructed have been found, on experi- 
ment, equally false. In the work of Sinclari's "De Arte magna 
et nova gravitatis et levitatis," the subject of perpetual 
motion by means of mercury is very skilfully handled. But 
all these plans have circumstances attending them causing 

♦ Vol 1, par. 58. 


their failiire. — Frtym the first chapter of the first division on 

[See Appendix B, for full account and engraving.] 

Pebpetual Pump. — ^In continuance of the same subject, 
but employing other means, Leupold describes : — 

A machine with a water-snake (Archimedean screw) 
whereby perpetual motion was attempted. 

There was a wheel made connected with a screw, and the 
water was to fall from the screw on the wheel. Several hands 
were occupied with great industry and earnestness on it for 
some years. A full description of this plan is to be found in 
Bettinus and in Peter Schotte's "Mechanica Hydraulica- 
Pneimiatica ;" but Bettinus, and especially Kircherus, have 
written to prove the impossibility of the method here proposed. 

[For engraving and full description from Leupold's work, 
see Appendix C] 

Our next early authority on the subject under consideration 
is derived from " A History of Manual Arts, 1661," to the 
following effect: — 

[After alluding to " Archimedes of Syracuse, the greatest 
mathematician and the rarest engineer that was in his time," 
who invented '^ a sphear and an artificial heaven, wherein he 
did represent the rotations and revolutions of the planets," 
and of which Claudian gives a poetic description — " that this 
machin did move of itself; it was an automaton, a self- 
moving device ;" and further, " that these motions were 
driven and acted by certain spirits pent within;" also of 
another device of "a silver heaven sent by the Emperour 
Ferdinand for a present to Soliman the Grand Signior," 
with twelve men, and a book " that shewed the use of it, and 
how to order and keep it in perpetual motion," — ^an accoimt 
is next given of Cornelius van Drebble, a Dutchman, of 
Alcmar, engineer to King James, in England : — ] 

24 PEKPETUUM mobile; 

He presented the king with a rare instrument of perpetual 
motion, without the means of steel, springs, or weights ; it 
was made in the form of a globe, in the hollow whereof were 
wheels of brass moving about, with two pointers on each side 
thereof, to proportion and shew forth the times of dayes, 
moneths, and years, like a perpetual almanack. (Page 19.) 

At page 22 is an account of Fanellus Turrianus, a citizen 
of Cremona, who " did recreate the Emperour Charles the 
Fift (when he had resigned up his empire, and retired to a 
monastique life in Spain) with ingenious and rare devices ;" — 
among others — 

He framed a mill of iron that turned itself, of such subtile 
work & smalness, that a monk could easily hide it in his 
sleeve ; yet would it daylie grinde so much wheat as would 
abimdantiy serve 8 persons for their day's allowance.* 

The next two articles we shall quote will be given in the 
original Latin version ; the first from a folio edition of 
KoBBBT Fludd's works, 1618, as follows : — 

De inatrumento hand spemendo, quo quidain^ Helvetius motum per' 
petuum invenisse pro certo credehat. JSstque speciei prima rota' 
rum differentite, 

A. rota principalis. B. C. pondera unius lateris. D. E. F. 
pondera alterius lateris. G. baculus portator. H. sustinens 
baculum. I. rotula elevans. K. ejus pecten. L. corona. 
M. pecten corona. N. interfracta. O. arbor. P. orbiculus. 
Q. chorda. R. pondus 4 librarum. 

Rota principalis hoc modo fit, scilicet, ut in 12. partes 
sequales dividatur in uno ac altero latere, & affigantur cuique 
lateri clavi 6. eadem distantia ab invicem dispositi, sic tamen, 
ut quivis clavus stet in medio duorum alionmi ex altero latere 
rotae, et non unus juxta alium : Appensis jam ponderibus 6. 
(quonmi in quovis latere sunt 3. omnia tamen 6. in ima parte 
rotae citra centrum) reperitur haec rota onerata pondere 15. 

* Humane Industry; or, a History of most Manual Arts. 12mo. 
London, 1661. Pp. 14 to 23. 


libramm, quia pondus C. in recta linea habet lb. quatuor. 
D. E. circa 7- lb. B. F. autem 4. quae simul aggregatae effi- 
ciunt 15. lb. quemadmodum ex regulis prima primi cap. et 
prima ac secunda secundi cap. lib. primi patet. 

Movetur jam rota, ita ut infimum pondus appropinquet 
clavo baculi portantis, qid positus juxta B. & F. recipit hoc 
pondus per uncum suimi, ubi illi adhaerenti portatur in altum, 
& rota inferiiis evacuata perget ; interim appropinquat clavus 
proximus, qid seqidtur B. &; in eodem loco, ubi jam est B. 
recipit pondus sibi apportatum a baculo: Et ita semper 
oneratur rota in superiori & exoneratur in inferiori parte, 
quia semper, dum duodecima pars rotse volvitur, baculimi 
ascendere, et dum alia duodecima pars vertitur, iteriim 
eundem descendere necesse est. Elevatur autem baculus 
per rotulimi L. quae rotula ter vertendo attingit omnem 
altitudinem baculi, ipsum ad clavum usque desideratum 
elevans : Vertitur autem ejusmodi rotula per pectinem 
suum K. a corona L. quae et ipsa per suum pectinem 
M. a rota interfracta N. semel volvitur, a quavis duodecima 
parte rotae interfractae O. semper dentes habentae in duodecima 
sua parte superficiei, et hoc sexies habet enim alias intermedias 
vacuas ejusdem speciei ad relinquendimi baculum, qid sponte 
sua cadere, et per casimi suum rotulam Q. et coronam M. 
reverti cogit ; Ne autem cadat cum impetu, suspensus est ad 
chordam Q. alteri baculo adhaerentem, per orbiculum P. qida 
tantum, quantum unus baculus cadit, alter ascendit. 

Rota interfracta affixa est arbori aut axi rotae principalis, 
et ejus vi circumvolvitur. Quod autem similia instrumenta 
posita simt ex alio rotae principalis latere, eo fit, quod semper 
et continuo loboratur onerando et exonerando rotam, qida 
quando ex imo latere pondus aufertur, in alio appenditur. 
Et sic semper rota habet 5, pondera pendentia, et unum 
semper inascendente baculo. 

Sed, quamvis haec viri Helvetici theoria sit satis ingeniosa 
aud probabilis quod 5. pondera inhaerentia rotae unum pondus 
facile trahere et elevare deberent ; Attamen, quia vis non est 
proportionata ad tempus, nihil hie efficitur, qida ascendens 
pondus pertransire debet per pondera 5. aut per spatium tot 
partium, quarum unica ipsum movetur, unicum pondus as- 
cendens tantum perdurat, quantum caetera quinque ratione 
longi transitus. Ergo seipsum superare nequit. 

Hanc Ingeniatoris Helvetici inventionem ej usque errorem 


PERPETUUM mobile; 

hoc loco descripsimus, ut hujus scientiae curiosi majori dili- 
gentia proportionum cognitionem perscutentur, easque se- 
dul6 observent. 

De alia bona inventione ad aquas facile elevandas^ quo quidam Italwt 
se motum perpetuum invenisse jactitare attstu est. 


fci^ 37 


. Pea* 20* 








A. haustnim seu pompa. 

B. rotula affixa in haustrifimdo, super quam pistella, sive 
rotunda ex corio conflata leviter circumvolvuntur, ut facilius 
sursum tendant ; repleturque uncis ferreis. 

C. C. C. pistella seu rotunda ex corio, quorum ope aqua 
extollitur in pompa. 


D. rotula per quam dicta rotunda in altum elevantur, 

E. pecten movens rotulam D. et B. 

F. est rota a rota inferior! G. circumducta, cujus dentibus 
pecten E. circulariter agit. 

H. pecten movens rotam G. 


Numeratnr hoc instrmnentum inter rotas primae differentiae?, 
quod vald^ est necessarium in multis usibus, quia minimo 
labore magnam aquae quantitatem sursum propter rotarum 
multitudinem ferre non est dubiiun. 

Longitudo autem haustri A. est 35. pedum, ejus ver6 lati- 
tude pedis 1. cimi J secundum proportionem, cujus concavi- 
tates rotundas exacte fieri debent, ut non perdant aliquid 
aquae ab iis attractae in suis ascensionibus ; Pompae igitur 
concavitas erit bene rotimda. 

Rota magna aquaria habebit pedes 24. in altitudine : Ilia 
ver6 G. pedes 20. 

Italus ille, sua contemplatione deceptus putabat se tantum 
aquae per pompam elevaturum, ut rotam aquariam perpetud 
movere cogeret, qida majorem vim requiri dicebat in fine 
hujus instrument!, qiiam in principio, sed, quia male capiebat 
ponderum proportiones, igitur in sua praxi erat deceptus.* 

The second Latin authority we have to offer is Bettino, as 
follows : — 

Motum aqua per machinas perpetuum molitionihus longe facilUmia 

Motus ille graunium circa terrae centrum perpetuus indica- 
tus in 7 & 8 propositionibus, etiam si fieri posset, esset tamen 
inutilis himianae, ac ciuilis vitae necessitatibus. In hac decima 
propositione motum aquae perpetuum attentamus per ma- 
chinas ; qui motus si fieret, maximo esset usui, et quaestusa 
compendia ex eo in vitam humanam redundarent. Ut igitur 
aliquid circa famosissiman hanc materiam nos etiam ex nostro 

• Tractatua Secundus De Naturae Simla sea Technica macrocosmi 
bistoria in partes undecim divisa. Roberto Fludd alias de Fluctibus 
i^rmigero et in Medicina Doctore Ozoniensi. In Nobili Oppenheimio. 
Folio. 1618. Pp. 456 and 462. 

30 PERPETITUM mobile; 

sensu prodamus, aio (quod attinet ad theoricam quandam 
constructionem ex ingenii geometrici, ac scientifici inventione, 
prodeunt^) plures machinas aquaticas constnii posse, aut ab 
antiqids ingeniosissime constructas facillimo negotio ita possa 
accomodari, ut, fortasse, nisi quid obstet exparte materise 
(a quae mathematica inventio abstrahit, nee culpam subit 
physicaeimperfectionis) machinae illae semper eadem aquae quan- 
titate in orbem ascendente, ac descendente, perpetuo quodam 
motu agitentur. 

Exemplum exbibiamus in mirissima ilia macbina cocblese 
Archimedeae per lineas spirales aqua baurientis, et (ut in 
sequenti propositione demonstrabimus) deuectione pondus 
impositum euebentis. Moveatur rota A B C, et cocbleae G D 
pes G ^ subiecto lacu G E aquam attollat per spiralem, ac 
volutam circa cilindrum G D. Cum aqua peruenerit ad D, 
atque eflFundetur, excipiatur canali, seu tubo D F, qid tubus 
versus rotam ABC deuexus deferat aquam, atq ; effundat in 
rotam cuius aquae decidentis vis supplebit vices potentiae 
moventis rotam: ac dum rota ab aqua movetur movetur et 
cocblea, et cochlea aquam haurit, atq ; attollit, aqua sublata 
revertitur, ac refunditur in rotam, e rota excipitur in lacum. 
Atq ; hoc aquae circulo machina cochleae, quae impetum acce- 
pit a motrice potentia an non iam per se solo aquae circimiitu 
ciebitur, motuq ; rotabitur perpetuo dum aqua e lacu non 
defecerit ? 

Pariarte, atq ; inveto machina Ctesibii, cuius fabricam, et 
simulacru habes apud Vitruidum, et aliae aliquae antiquorum, 
si fiat ut aquae quam attolunt, refundatur in rotam, qua 
machinam moveat, an non poterunt motus perpetui exempla 
praebere ? Sed nos exemplum nostrum exhibuimus in 
cochlea tum ob alia, tum praecipue ob duo, quae mox appo- 
nam, quibus singulariter in hac machina facilior fit constructio, 
et usus ad motimi perpetuum, quam in alia ulla ; praetereaq ; 
reiici videtur oppositiones praecipuae, quae obstare possunt 
molientibus inventa pro motu aquae per machinas perpetuo. 

Prim6 enim si fingas, atq ; opponas requiri maiorem uim 
motricem in rota, quam sit aquae uis, ac quantitas in rotam 
decidentis, ut cochlea pondus aquae possit attollere, etiam si 
augeatur vis aquae dimi sublata in machinam deinde in natae 
gravitatis nisu, ac podere maiori praecipi dantur revoluta in 
rotam machinae motricem. Respondeo prim6 singulare esse 
in cochlea ut minor vis ad eius motionem proportione requira- 


tur, quam, in alia uUa machina, duas prsecipue ob causas. 
Minor via requi- Prima est quia euectio ilia per spiralem circa 
nfto- ad motum cylindruixi, vel conum, est aliqua, & minus vio- 
aUmrum wtaehi- lenta, quam sublatio aquae perpendiculanter 
iiMnim. ascendentis, vel per vim ejectse, ut in Ctesibiana 

machina, et in aliis quibusdam fit. Secunda causa facilitatis 
ad motum in cochlea est a modo peculiari, atq ; admirando 
euectionis ponderum per spiralem, d\hn cochlea obliqua cir- 
cumuoluitur ; ea enim euectio ita fit, ut pondera ipsa suam 
euectionem inuent. Nam fit quidam motus mixtus ex conti- 
nent! quodam decensu simul, atq ; ascensu gravium, qvae 
gravia dum motu proprio descensum affectant, decummt 
sponte per spiralem, atq; ipsa spiralis ex circumuolutione 
cochleae pondera decurrentia sensim, atq ; oblique, ac quasi 
furtiu^ paullatim attollit. plura inferius in sequenti proposit. 
11 et in schol. 1 ad eam propositionem dicemus circa miriss 
hune motum spiralem, &c. 

Respondeo 2, quod ad aquae quantitatem, ac vim, c6chlea 
habet etiam hoc eximiu, ac pecidiare, ut in ipsa machina (hoc 
est circa cylindnmi, vel eonimi) possint miiltiplicari volutse, 
sine tubi spirales ita, ut non unica tantum sit spiralis (quod 
hactenus in usu fuit circa cylindricas cochleas) sed temse, 
quatemae, ac plures spirales circimipositae maiorem aquae 
copiam pro niunero spiralium hauriant, et attollant. Qua de 
re inferius in schol. 2 proposit. sequentis undecimae. Nimc 
tantum ad rem indico quemadmodum aquae copia possit 
augeri, ut aquare, ac superare possit uim potentiae rotam A B 
C moventis. 

Notandum est univers^ circa hunc aquae circulumper aptas 
machinas ad motu perpetuum, canales, ac tubos machinarum, 
per quos aqua influet sic aptandos, et cum omni 
Nota onem. ^q^^qj^q mimiendos, ut nihil aquf inter fluelis, 
aut defluentis possit furtim effluere, atq ; efiundi. Nam 
exea aquae effusione imminueretur non solum quantitas, sed 
et uis aquae necessaria ad machinam movendam, et ad motimi 

1^ tamen, ut in nostra figura, aqua, post defluxum in rotam 
diffluat in lacum, nihil aquae peribit, &c. etiam si aperte deci- 
dant. Eadem enim aquae quantitas semper refunditur in lacimi. 

Vide ad motum perpetuum adhuc maiora adiumenta pro- 
pos. 14 inferius in hoc progym. [Apiar. IV., progym. I., 
prop. X."] 

82 PERPETUiTM mobile; 

Horaria dioptrica, ^ catoptrica. Machine perpetuo tnotu diu, 
tioctuq; soils cursum sequentes^ acper horas aimentientes, 

1. Pertinent ad paradoxa gnomonica horologia dioptrica, 
velut scaphia, in qidbus aqua infusis umbra gnomonis per 

Horaria di a^^am refracta horas indicat, Reuise nos 
triea, in qui^ initio Apiarii nostri astronomici, ubi modum 
hora per refrao- apposuimus metendi organic^ quantitatem 
*^'*^ anguli refractorii per scaphia. Nihil nos hie 

de iis dioptricis horariis, quia nihil habent in nouitate utili- 
tatis, inuno sol6m addunt plures difficultates fabricse, ac usui 
horariorum in scaphiis usitatorum. 

2. Sunt et horaria catoptrica, in quibus et horarise linese 
inuersse, et specillum loco verticis gnomonici reflectit radium 

. solis ad horas indicandas. De quibus vide 

triea^^in* ^iSn opusculum doctissimum erudissimi P. Athanasii 
horas per rejiexio- Kircheri e nostra Societate, qui imus e tribus 
***"** fuit c^soribus, et adprobatoribus Romse meo- 

rum Apiariorum. Novitas in iis catoptricis horariis ingeniosa, 
et in eo prsecipue utilis est qu6d horas indicet intracubicula, et 
conclavia in umbra, ne oculorum aciem prsestringat solis 
fulgor, &c. Nos in sequenti capite aliquem usum catoptri- 
cum no catoptricorum horariorum dabimus, quern apud alios 
non vidimus. 

3. Machinas horarias aliqui machinati sGt, in quibus vel 
rotulanmi supra aquam libratarum mobilis index, vel globulus 
in aqua mobilis diu, noctuq ; perpetua, lentissimaq ; rotatione 
motum solis sequuntur* Hse machinse non tam ad mathema- 
ticiun quam ad physicum philosophimi pertinent, et extra 
nostrum institutum sunt, qui mathematica inventa geometricis 
demonstrationibus confirmata profitemur ; ob admirandam 
tamen novitatem digna sunt ea horaria, quae inter nostra 
paradoxa reponantur accipe verba, et iconem unius ^ prae- 

dictis machmae, ut iacent apud P. Sylvestrum 
Mira horaria Petra sanctam nostra societatis, in expolitis- 

machtTia cumotu . j -i i» t_ •-.• Tt, a ' n 

perpetuo. s^^o opere de symbous heroicis ub. 4 m fine 

capitis 6. Scio magnetis lapidis effecta pror- 
sus admiranda esse, atq ; ex illius virtute prodire semper 
aliquid novi. Sic Leodu nuper in Collegio Anglorti nostras 
Societatis P. Fraciscus Linus Magister matheseos excogitavit 
felicissime orbem, qui intra phialam (velut B C A) in circun- 
fusae aquae centro (sicut in circunfuso aere tellus) haeret 
secreto suae molis libramento (ut ad D). Sed conuersionem 


c»li tamen ab ortu in occasum arcana vi, et veluti quodam 
amore consectatur, spatioq ; Yigintiquatuor horamm omnino 

Piscicnlus interest indicia I060 est (ceu in G) et quasi nandi 
peritus, ac libratus pondere sue praetereuntes horas veluti 
admiras designat rostro, easq ; oculis de fixis intuetur. Mota 
phiala, si aquae impetus detur, mox iter sua sponte orbis 
releget ; penitusq ; ratio temporis constabit, postquam tran- 
quillitas redierit. 

Indicem quoq ; in pbiala constituas, et indicabit perinde 
horas* Sed et solem finge in eodem orbe, venmi solem in 
ortu, meridie, occasu sequetur, atq ; adeo e sede sua excussas 
requiret illic6, et repetet stationem syderi consentaneam. 
Tantum plus nimis adproper abit, quia nescit amor tardita- 
tem : nilulominua dum aliquoties transiliet, resilietq ; demum 
ob inebit locum, ex cuo citra errorem solis comes denu6 ibit. 

Vitreus orbis A C B sustinetur, ut vides, lector, ab aqua 
peluis C E F B. 

Egent tamen etiam bse machinse, quemadmodum et autho- 
mata horaria ex ponderibus, vel ex chalybe contorto, subinde 
aliqua restauratione, qida deniq ; nullum k mortalibus inven- 
turn est inunortale, ac vera perpetuimi.* [Apiar. IX., progym. 
v., prop. XI.] 

♦ Apiaria Universae PhilopophisB Mathematicaa in quibua Para'Ioxa. 
By Mario Bettinu Bononieusi e Soc. Jesu. Bonnoniae, 1615. FoLo. 


34 PEEPETUUM mobile; 



Edwabd Somebset, sixth Earl and second Marquis of 
Worcester, bom at Ragland, near Monmouth, author of 
the " Century of Inventions," was much distinguished in 
his youth by King Charles I., during several visits he made 
to Ragland Castle, and who subsequently appointed him 
Lord-Lieutenant of North Wales, addressing him as Earl of 
Glamorgan, until he succeeded to his heritable honours. 
Walpole has been justly censured for describing him as " a 
fanatic projector," and his " Century " as " an amazing piece 
of folly." He died in retirement near London, 1667, in 
reduced circimistances. 

The following is the fifty-sixth article transcribed from 
the manuscript of the " Century of Inventions," dated 1659, 
and indexed therein as " An advantageous change of 
centers :" — 

56. To proidde and make that all y* weights of y* defcending 
syde of a wheele shal be perpetually further from y* center, 
then thofe of y* mounting syde, and yett equall in number 
and heft of y* one syde as y* other. A most incredible thing 
if not scene, butt tryed before y* late King of happy and 
glorious memorye in y* Tower by my directions, two Extra- 
ordnary Embaffadors accompanying his Ma*^® and y* D. of 
Richmond, D. Hamilton, and most part of y* Court attending 
him. The wheele was 14 foote ouer, and 40 weights of 50 
p*^ apiece ; S' Wm. Belford, then Lieu* of y* Tower, and yet 
lining can justify it with seuerall others ; They all saw that 
noe sooner these great weights passed y* Diameter Line of y* 
vpper syde but they himg a foote further from y® center. 


nor no sooner passed the Diameter line of the lower syde, 
butt they hung a foote nearer ; bee pleaded to judge y conse- 

Note on above, from an edition of the " Century of Inven- 
tions,'* edited by Charles F. Partington. 1825 : — 

The celebrated problem of a self-impelling power, though 
denied by Huygens and De la Hire, who have attempted 
to demonstrate its fallacy, has yet been supported by 
some of the most celebrated among the ancient as well as 
modem philosophers. Inniimerable have been the machines 
to which the idea of the perpetual motion has given birth, 
but the most celebrated among the modems is the Orffpean 
Wheel. This machine, according to the description given of 
it by M. QrsBvesande, in his " CEuvres Philosophiques," con- 
sisted of a large circular wheel or drum, twelve feet in dia- 
meter, and fourteen inches in depth. It was composed of a 
number of thin deals, the spaces between which were covered 
with wax cloth, in order to conceal the inner parts of it. On 
giving the wheel, which rested on the two extremities of an 
iron axis, a slight impulse in either direction, its motion was 
gradually accelerated ; so that, after two or three revolu- 
tions, it is said to have acquired so great a velocity as to make 
twenty-five or more turns in a minute : and it appears to have 
preserved this rapid motion for the space of two months, 
during which time the Landgrave of Hesse, in whose cham- 
ber it was placed to prevent a possibility of collusion, kept 
his own seal on the outer door. At the end of that time it 
was stopped to prevent the wear of the materials. Graeve- 
sande, who had been an eye-witness to the performance of 
this machine, examined all the external parts of it, and was 
convinced that there could not be any commimication between 
it and the adjacent rooms. Orflfyreus, however, having 
been informed of the ill-timed curiosity of the professor, and 
incensed at the refusal of a premium of twenty thousand 
pounds, which he had made a sine qua non for disclosing 
the mechanism of its construction, broke the whole apparatus 
into atoms, and his life was soon after sacrificed to chagrin at 
his disappointment. The analogy between the Marquis's 
description and the Orffyrean Wheel is sufficiently evident ; 
and the experiment having been made in the Tower more 

* See Harleian MS., X4o. 2,428, In the British Museum. 


than fifty years prior to the attempt of the German mechanic^ 
it is more than probable that the idea was derived from the 
noble author's work. 

Mr. Partington, in his " Manual of Natural Philosophy,'* 
writes as follows on Perpetual Motion : — 

Having taken a brief review of the simple machines which 
are usually considered under the general character of mechani- 
cal powers, it may now be advisable to examine how far a 
combination of these powers can tend towards producing a 
perpetual motion. There are few subjects, indeed, that have 
more engaged the attention of the mechanical world in every 
age, than the solution of this apparently difficult problem ; 
and their repeated failure has been no bar to renewed attempts. 

It may, indeed, be demonstrated that a perpetual motion 
is impossible, at least by the ordinary laws of nature ; for to 
be possible, it is necessary that the effect should become 
alternately the cause, and the cause the effect. It would be 
necessary, for example, that a weight raised to a certain 
height by another weight, should in its turn raise the second 
weight to the height from which it descended. Now this 
we know to be impossible. 

Amongst the various attempts at a perpetual motion, that of 
a circular wheel, described by the Marquis of Worcester and 
Orfiyreus, offered at first view the greatest chance of success. 

The Marquis of Worcester's account of a perpetual 
motion occurs in the fifty-sixth article of his " Century of 

In this cylindrical wheel, or 
drum, are formed channels, con- 
taining balls of lead, which alter- 
nately approach and recede from 
the centre ; and it would seem, 
upon the principle of the lever, 
that as the weights are always 
further from the centre on one 
side than on the other, a continu- 
ous rotatory motion must be pro- 

But, notwithstanding the spe- 
cious appearance of this reason- 

* See preceding article. 


ing, experience has proved that the machine will not turn 
perpetually ; and it will he seen, on inspection, that, though 
some of the weights are more distant from the centre than 
others, yet there is always a proportionably smaller number 
of them on the side at which they have the greatest power, 
so that these two circumstances precisely counterbalance each 

The Marquis's wheel will be found often referred to in 
notices occurring in succeeding pages ; indeed, the invention 
and its ingenious author are sufficiently remarkable, no one 
having been able to reproduce a wheel possessing the precise 
properties he mentions, or satisfactorily contradict the state- 
ment he has made. 

The only other invention we have here to consider is the 
celebrated one constructed by Jean Ernest Elie-Bessler 
Orffyre or Orphyrreus, who is usually named Orffyreus 
when noticed in English and German f works on mechanics. He 
was bom in 1680, near Zittan, in the department of Alsace, 
France, and early studied theology and medicine, but his 
erratic genius was only to be satisfied by engaging himself 
in the pursuit of a variety of the mechanical arts and paint- 
ing. He asserts that it was during his search for whatever 
might prove curious and valuable that he discovered Perpetual 
Motion, and between the years 1712 and 1719, made two 
machines on his system ; one he desired to exhibit publicly, 
but broke it up rather than submit to the payment of the 
licence or tax required by the Government of Cassel; the 
other he destroyed after its having been imfavourably 
reported on by M.'S Grsevesande. He published, in Ger- 
man and Latin, a book, or pamphlet, entitled " Le Mouve- 
ment Perpetuel Triomphant," quarto, dated Cassel, 1719.J 

* A Manual of Katural and Experimental Philosophy. By Charles 
F. Partington. 8vo. 

t Leupold styles him Herr Rath Orffvreus, he heing one of the Coun- 
cillors to the Prince of Hesse Cassel. [See Appendix A.] 

X See Dezohry and Bachelet's Dictionnaire Generale de Biographie, 
&c. Paris, 1857. Royal Svo. 


Other accounts differ, as will presently appear, respecting 
the breaking of the second machine; and, on insufficient 
authority, Mr. Partington styles him a " German mechanic/' 
Dr. William Kenrick, among his miscellaneous works, wrote 
"An Account of the Automaton, or Perpetual Motion of 
Orflfyreus, with additional remarks," in editions dated 1770 
and 1771. Orfiyreus died November, 1745. 

We shall now proceed to giye notices and attempted 
refutations of his and supposed like inventions. 

The " Annual Register " for 1763 gives the following inte- 
resting correspondence about Orffyreus and his wheel : — 

On the possibility^ and use towards finding the longitude^ of a Perpetual 

Sib, — The "Utrecht Gazette" some time since informed 
us, " that a mechanic* of East-Friesland hath invented a 
machine, which, being once put in motion, keeps perpetually 
going till such time as the materials of which it is composed 
are fallen to decay, or the structure of the machine itself is 
altered." To this accoimt some blundering news-writer, I 
suppose, has added the following reflection : " If this be 
true, we have here a discovery of the longitude under aU the 
variations of climes, seasons, weather, &c., an invention 
which the great Leibnitz and Bemouilli thought as impos- 
sible as the squaring of the circle, or the discovery of an uni- 
versal panacea." Now, Sir, whether the information con- 
tained in the above article be true or false, or whether such a 
discovery be practicable or only chimerical, certain it is we 
should be no otherwise benefited by, in regard to the longi- 
tude, than as it might be productive of a time-keeper, that 
would not want winding up. It is, however, an equable as 
well as a constant motion, that is wanted to determine the 
longitude ; so that every such machine must be regulated by 
a pendulum, and would then, as well as in other respects, be 
subject to the variations of climes and seasons. Again, the 
reflector is mistaken in saying that both Leibnitz and Ber- 
nouilli thought this discovery impossible. The former, 
indeed, constantly affirms its impossibility; and yet in his 
disputes with Papin, published in the " Acta Lipsiensia," he 
declares, that if the force of a body in motion be in a direct 


proportion to its velocity (as it is now universally known to 
be) a perpetual motion must be possible. And with regard 
to Bemonilli, you may find in the first volume of his works, 
page 41 Sf seq.y that he not only declares it to be possible, but 
also that he had actually conceived a method whereby it 
might be rendered practicable. De la Hire and other eminent 
mathematicians pretend, indeed, to have demonstrated the 
impossibility of such a discovery. But it is certain that 
others have not thought those demonstrations applicable to 
all possible machines. Among these may be mentioned the 
late Professor 'S Gravesande of Leyden, undoubtedly one of 
the first mathematicians, and as well versed in geometry and 
mechanics as any man of his time. Yet this gentleman 
wrote a treatise professedly to prove the possibility in ques- 
tion ; nay, it appears that he went so far as to think it had 
been actually discovered in the machine of Orfyreus, that 
made such a noise at Hesse Cassel about forty years ago ; 
and which he examined at the desire of the landgrave, with 
the utmost care and attention. Indeed, I cannot help think- 
ing that the dispute subsisting between the philosophers tjon- 
ceming the momenta of moving bodies, which was at that 
time at its highest warmth, prevented that machine from 
being so much attended to as it deserved. In this opinion 
also I am strongly confirmed by a letter, written by that pro- 
fessor to Sir Isaac Newton on the subject of that machine ; 
which letter, as I know not where it is to be foimd in the 
English language, I have translated from the French,* for 
the information or entertainment of your readers : — 

A Letter from Professor 'S Oravesande to Sir Isaac Newton, con- 
cerning Orfyreus' s Wheel. 

Sib, — ^Doctor Desaguliers has doubtless shown you the 
letter that Baron Fischer wrote to him some time ago, about 
the wheel of Orfyreus ; which the inventor affirms to be a 
perpetual motion. The landgrave, who is a lover of the 
sciences and fine arts, and neglects no opportunity to encou- 
rage the several discoveries and improvements that are pre- 
sented him, was desirous of having this machine made known 
to the world, for the sake of public utility. To this end he 
engaged me to examine it ; wishing that, if it should be 

* Printed in the **Mercure Historique et Politique," September, 1721. 


found to answer the pretensions of the inventor, it might b0 
made known to persons of greater abilities, who might deduce 
from it those services which are naturally to be expected from 
so singular an invention. You will not be displeased, I pre- 
sume, with a circumstantial account of this examination ; I 
transmit you therefore a detail of the most particular circum- 
stances observable on an exterior view of a machine, con- 
cerning which the sentiments of most people are greatly 
divided, while almost all the mathematicians are against it. 
The majority maintain the impossibility of a perpetual 
motion, and hence it is that so little attention hath been paid 
to Orfyreus and his invention. 

For my part, however, though I confess my abilities infe- 
rior to those of many who have given their demonstrations of 
this impossibility ; yet I will communicate to you the real 
sentiments with which I entered on the examination of this 
machine. It is now more than seven years since I conceived 
I discovered the paralogism of those demonstrations, in thaty 
though true in themselves, they were not applicable to all 
possible machines ; and have ever since remained perfectly 
persuaded, it might be demonstrated that a perpetual motion 
involved no contradiction ; it appearing to me that Leibnitz 
was wrong in laying down the impossibility of the perpetual 
motion as an axiom. Notwithstanding this persuasion, how- 
ever, I was far from believing Orfyreus capable of making 
such a discovery, looking upon it as an invention not to be 
made (if ever) till after many other previous discoveries. 
But since I have examined the machine, it is impossible for 
me to express my surprise. 

The inventor has a turn for mechanics, but is far from 
being a profoimd mathematician, and yet his machine hath 
something in it prodigiously astonishing, even tho' it should 
be an imposition. The following is a description of the 
external parts of the machine, the inside of which the 
inventor will not permit to be seen, lest any one should rob 
him of his secret. It is an hollow wheel, or kind of drum, 
about fourteen inches thick, and twelve feet diameter ; being 
very light, as it consists of several cross pieces of wood 
framed together ; the whole of which is covered over with 
canvas, to prevent the inside from being seen. Through the 
centre of this wheel or drum runs an axis of about six inches 
diameter, terminated at both ends by iron axes of about three- 


quarters of an inch diameter upon wliich the machine turns. 
I have examined these axes, and am firmly persuaded that 
nothing from without the wheel in the least contributes to 
its motion. When I turned it but gently, it always stood 
still as soon as I took away my hand ; but when I gave it any 
tolerable degree of velocity, I was always obliged to stop it 
again by force ; for when I let it go, it acquired in two or 
three turns its greatest velocity, after which it revolved for 
twenty-five or twenty-six times in a minute. This motion it 
preserved some time ago for two months, in an apartment of 
the castle : the door and windows of which were locked and 
sealed, so that there was no possibility of fraud. At the 
expiration of that term indeed his serene highness ordered the 
ap€Lrtment to be opened, and the machine to be stopped, lest, 
as it was only a model, the parts might suffer by so much 
agitation. The landgrave being himself present on my exa- 
mination of this macHne, I took the liberty to ask him, as he 
had seen the inside of it, whether, after being in motion for a 
certain time, no alteration was made in the component parts ; 
or whether none of those parts might be suspected of con- 
cealing some fraud : on which his serene highness assured 
me to the contrary, and that the machine was very simple. 

You see, Sir, I have not had any absolute demonstration, 
that the principle of motion which is certainly within the 
wheel, is really a principle of perpetual motion ; but at the 
same time it cannot be denied me that I have received very 
good reasons to think so, which is a strong presumption in 
favour of the inventor. The landgrave hath made Orfyrcus 
a very handsome present, to be let into the secret of the 
machine, under an engagement nevertheless not to discover, 
or to make any use of it, before the inventor may procure a 
sufficient reward for making his discovery public. 

I am very sensible. Sir, that it is in England only the arts and 
sciences are so generally cultivated as to afford any prospect 
of the inventor's acquiring a reward adequate to this disco- 
very. He requires nothing more than the assurance of 
having it paid him in case his machine is found to be really a 
perpetual motion ; and as he desires nothing more than this 
assurance till the construction of the machine be displayed 
and fairly examined, it cannot be expected he should submit 
to such examination before such assurance be given him. 
Now, Sir, as it would conduce to public utility, as well as to 

42 PEBPETur^M mobile; 

the advancement of science, to discover the reality or tlie 
fraud of this invention, I conceive the relation of the above 
circumstances could not fail of being acceptable. I am, &c. 

Nothing can be more in favour of Orfyreus than this testi- 
m.ony of Mr. 'S Gravesande ; so that, on a supposition that the 
Oazette-writer of Utrecht hath not imposed upon us, the 
East-Frieslander hath probably done no more than Orfyreus 
did before him ; the world having been so long deprived of 
the advantages that must necessarily attend the publication 
cf such a discovery, from the effects of a mistaken prejudice, 
equally destructive to the improvement of the arts and 
sciences, as to the happiness of mankind.* 

The following remarks of Dr. Desaguliers on Perpetual 
Motion, in the thirty-first volume of the " Philosophical Trans- 
actions," are repeated in the first volume of his "Course of 
Experimental Philosophy," and are thus introduced: — 

14. [70. — Pretenders to perpetual motions, and those who 
promise greater effects by machinery than is conformable to 
the reciprocal proportion between the intensities of the powers 
and weights, and their velocities.] About the year 1720 and 
1721, the late John Rowley, mathematical instrument maker, 
talk'd so much of the wheel which he had seen at Hesse- 
Cassel (which he believed to be a perpetual motion, as well 
as a great many persons in that country) that besides the 
common herd of Perpetual Motion men, which every age 
affords, some very ingenious men made an attempt that way, 
and were countenanc'd in it by some great mathematicians, 
who, when the scheme was laid before them, declared they 
knew no reason why it should not do. But as I always de- 
clar'd against all projects tending that way, I was desired at 
that time to publish my reasons why the thing seemed impos- 
sible or impracticable ; which I did in the " Philosophical 
Transactions" (No. 369) in such a manner as might dissuade 
people at first from any such attempts, in which so much 
time and money have been lost. I have here printed the 
whole account again.f 

* The Annual Register, for the year 1763, vol. 6, pp. 126-128. 

t A Course of Experimental Philosophy. By J. T. Desaguh'er^-, 
LL D., F.R.S. 2 vols. 4fto. Second Edition, 174f5. . Vol. 1, p. 183. 


[The annexed paper, from the " Philosophical Transactions,'' 
is the one above-named : — ] 

Remarks on some Attempts made towards a Perpetual Motion ; by 
the Rsverend Dr. Desaguliers, F,E.S. 

The wheel at Hesse-Cassel, made by Monsieur, 
and by him called a perpetual motion, has of late been so 
much talk'd of, on account of its wonderful phaenomena, that 
a great many people have believed it to be actually a self- 
moving engine ; and accordingly have attempted to imitate it 
as such. Now, as a great deal of lime and money is spent in 
those endeavours, I was willing (for the sake of those that 
try experiments with that view) to shew that the principle 
which most of them go upon is false, and can by no means 
produce a perpetual motion. 

They take it for granted, that if a weight descending in a 
wheel, at a determined distance from the centre, does in its 
accent approach nearer to it ; such a weight in its descent 
will always preponderate, and cause a weight equal to it to 
rise, provided it comes nearer the centre in its rise ; and 
accordingly as itself rises, will be overbalanced by another 
weight equal to it ; and therefore they endeavour by various 
contrivances to produce that effect, as if the consequence of 
it would be a perpetual motion. 

But I shall shew that they mistake one particular case of a 
general theorem, or rather a corollory of it, for the theorem 
itself. The theorem is as follows : — 

Thbob.— If one weight in its descent does by means of any 
contrivance cause another weight to ascend with a less mo- 
mentum or quantity of motion than itself, it will preponderate 
and raise the other weight. 

Cob. 1. — ^Therefore if the weights be equal, the descend- 
ing weight must have more velocity than the ascending 
weight, because the momentum is made up of the weight 
multiplied into the quantity of matter. 

Cob. 2. — ^Therefore if a leaver or balance have equal 
weights fastened or hanging at its ends, and the brachia be 
ever so little unequal, that weight will preponderate which is 
farthest from the centre. 

Scholium. — ^This second corollary causes the mistake ; 
because those, who think the velocity of the weight is the 
line it describes, expect that that weight shall be overpoised. 

44 PERpmrcM xoblle: 

-which descrihes the shortest Hne, and therefore contrive ma- 
chines to cause the ascending weight to describe a shorter 
line than the descending weight. As for example, in the 
circle A D B a ^Fig. 3^ Ae weights A and B being supposed 
eqnaU thej imagine, that if \}>j any contriTance whatever) 
whilst the weight A describes the arc A a, the weight B is 
carried in any arc, as B &, so as to come nearer the centre in 
its rising, than if it went up the arc B D ; the said weight 
shall be oveipois'd, and consequently, by a number of such 
weights, a perpetual motion wfll be produced. 

'Diis is attempted by several contrivances* which all depend 
upon this Mse principle ; but I shall only mention one, which 
is represented by Fig. 4, where a wheel having two parallel 
circumferences, has the space between them divided into 
cells, which being curv'd, will (when the wheel goes round) 
cause weights placed loose in the said cells, to descend on 
the side A, at the outer circumference of the wheel, and on 
the side D to ascend in the line B 6 6 &, which comes nearer 
the centre, and touches the inner circumference of the wheel. 
In a machine of this kind, the weights will indeed move in 
such a manner, if the wheel be tum'd round, but will never 
be the cause of the wheel's going round. Such a machine is 
mentioned by the Marquis of Worcester, in his *' Century of 
Inventions," in the following words. No. 56 : — 

" To provide and make that all the weights of the descending 
side of a wheel, shall be perpetually farther from the centre, 
than those of the mounting side, and yet equal in number 
and heft to the one side as the other. A most incredible 
thing, if not seen ; but tried before the late King (of blessed 
memory) in the Tower by my directions, two extraordinary 
ambassadors accompanying his Majesty, and the Duke of 
Richmond, and Duke of Hamilton, with most of the Court 
attending him. The wheel was fourteen foot over, and 
had fourty weights of fifty pounds a piece. Sir William 
Balfore, then Lieutenant of the Tower, can justify it, with 
several others. They all saw, that no sooner these great 
weights passed the diameter line of the lower side, but they 
hung a foot farther from the centre ; nor no sooner passed 
the diameter line of the upper side, but they himg a foot 
nearer. Be pleased to judge of the consequence." 

Now the consequence of this, and such like machines, is 
nothing less than a perpetual motion ; and the fallacy is this : 

(Fig. 3.) 

(Pig- *.) 

(Fig. 5.) 

' PhiloiopWcal Tratifactions." No. 369. Vol.31. 1720-1721. 


The velocity of any weight is not the line, which it describes 
in general, but the height that it rises up to, or falls from, 
with respect to its distance from the centre of the earth. So 
that when the weight (Fig. 3) describes the arc A a, its 
velocity is the line A C, which shews the perpendicular 
descent (or measures how much it is come nearer to the 
centre of the earth), and likewise the line B C denotes the 
velocity of the weight B, or the height that it rises to, when 
it ascends in any of the arcs B b, instead of the arc B D : 
so that in this case whether the weight B, in its ascent be 
brought nearer the centre or not, it loses no velocity, which 
it ought to do, in order to be raised up by the weight A. 
Nay, the weight in rising nearer the centre of a wheel, may 
not only not lose of its velocity, but be made to gain velocity, 
in proportion to the velocity of its counterpoising weights, 
that descend in the circumference of the opposite side of the 
wheel; for if we consider two radii of the wheel, one of 
which is horizontal, and the other (fastened to and moving 
with it) inclined under the horizon in an angle of 60 degr. 
(Fig. 5) and by the descent of the end B of the radius B C, 
the radius CD by its motion causes the weight at D, to rise 
up the line p P, which is in a plane that stops the said weight 
from rising in the curve D A, that weight will gain velocity, 
and in the beginning of its rise, it will have twice the velocity 
of the weight at B ; and consequently, instead of being rais'd, 
will overpoise, if it be equal to the last mentioned weight. 
And this velocity will be so much the greater, in proportion 
as the angle A C D is greater, or as the plane P p (along 
which the weight D must rise) is nearer to the centre. 
Indeed, if the weight at B (Fig. 3) could by any means be 
lifted up to p, and move in the arc /3 5, the end would be 
answer'd; because then the velocity would be diminished, 
and become /3 C. 

Experiment (Fig. 5). — Take the leaver BCD, whose 
brachia are equal in length, bent in an angle of 120 degr. at 
C, and moveable about that point as its centre : In this case, 
a weight of two pounds hanging at the end B of the horizontal 
part of the leaver, will keep in aequilibrio a weight of four 
pounds hanging at the end D. But if a weight of one pound 
be laid upon the end D of the leaver, so that in the motion 
of D along the arc p A, this weight is made to rise up against 
the plane P/? (which divides in half the line A C equal to 


C B) the said weight will keep in sequilibrio two pounds at 
B, as having twice the velocity of it, when the leaver begins 
to move. This will be evident, if you let the weight 4 hang 
at D, whilst the weight 1 lies above it : for if then you move 
the leaver, the weight 1 will rise four times as fast as the 
weight 4.* 

Notice of the Wheel of OrflPyreus, in the " Gentleman's 
Magazine," in a letter on — 

Perpetual Motion said to be discovered, 

Mb. Ubbak, — Being an admirer of improvements in me- 
chanics, and desirous of seeing the perpetual motion dis- 
covered, I Was much pleased on readmg, some time ago, an 
accoimt of the automaton constructed by Orflfyreus, in two 
letters, one from Professor s'Gravesande to Sir Isaac Newton, 
the other from Baron Fischer to Dr. Desaguliers, with the 
testimonial of the Landgrave of Hesse^Cassel (who had seen 
the inside of it) in favoiir of its construction. To which are 
added some remarks by William Kenrick, the writer of the 
pamphlet, who takes that opportimity to propose a subscrip- 
tion for a similar machine, which he says he has contrived, 
and denominated a Rotator. 

It is much to be lamented that the learned did not examine 
more strictly into the merit of Orflfyreus*s wheel ; but, on the 
contrary, being prepossessed with a notion of the impractica- 
bility of the perpetual motion, suffered it to be neglected, 
and at last destroyed by the hands of a disappointed mechanic, 
who, with unwearied application and steady perseverance, had 
brought it to perfection. I wish we may not again let slip an 
opportunity of becoming acquainted with an invention, which, 
when made public, will reflect honour on the inventor, and 
be of the utmost utility to the world. Such, I woidd hope, is 
the rotator mentioned by W. Kenrick ; for, unless his disco- 
very were real, I cannot think that he would have taken the 
liberty to express himself as he does in p. 26, &c. " The 
inventor flatters himself that, if the contents of the foregoing 
pages are seriously attended to, and it be farther considered, 
that not a penny of the proposed premium is required, till the 
subscribers are fully satisfied of the reality and utility of the 

• The PliiloBophtcal Transactions, vol. 31, for the years 1720, 1721. 
4to. No. 369, Sep , Oct., Nov., Dec, 1721, page 237. 


invention, his proposal will not be treated with so mortifying 
a neglect as that of Orffyreus." Again he says, " If it does 
not supply the place of a first mover, at the expense only of 
the construction and repair of a simple wheel, subject to very 
little friction, and that in all such engines and machines, even 
from the slightest piece of clockwork to the waterworks of 
Marli or London-bridge, he expects nothing for his discovery, 
but to stand exposed to the contempt that will be justly 
thrown on him, for having so miserably mispent his time, 
and frivolously engaged the attention of the public." 

Now, I think that W. Kenrick's proposals are very fair ; 
and should be glad to be informed, whether any attention 
has been paid to them, and whether Sir Isaac Newton took 
any notice of the letter addressed to him by Professor 8*Gra- 
vesande. I shall consider it as a favour if any correspondent 
will oblige me with an answer to these particulars. 

A Constant Reader.* 

Dr. Hutton, in his notice " Of the Perpetual Motion," inci- 
dentally condemns the wheel of Orfiyreus, observing : — 

The perpetual motion has been the quicksand of mechani- 
cians, as the quadrature of the circle, the trisection of an 
angle, &c., have been that of geometricians : and as those 
who pretend to have discovered the solution of the latter pro- 
blems are in general persons scarcely acquainted with the 
principles of geometry, those who search for, or imagine they 
have found, the perpetual motion, are always men to whom 
the most certain and invariable truths of mechanics are 

It may be demonstrated, indeed, to all those capable of rea- 
soning in a soimd manner on those sciences, that a perpetual 
motion is impossible : for, to be possible, it is necessary that 
the eflfect shoidd become alternately the cause, and the cause 
the effect. It woidd be necessary, for example, that a weight 
raised to a certain height by another weight, should in its 
turn raise the second weight to the height from which it de- 
scended. But, according to the laws of motion, all that a 
descending weight coidd do, in the most perfect machine 
which the mind can conceive, is to raise another in the same 
time to a height reciprocally proportional to its mass. But 

• The Gentleman'g Magazine. Vol. 42. 1772. P. 172. 




it is impossible to construct a machine in wliich there shall 
be neither friction nor the resistance of some medium to be 
overcome ; consequently at each alternation of ascent and 
descent, some quantity of motion, however small, will always 
be lost : each time, therefore, the weight to be raised will ascend 
to a less height ; and the motion will gradually slacken, and 
at length cease entirely. 

A moving principle has been sought for, but without suc- 
cess, in the magnet, in the gravity of the atmosphere, and in 
the elasticity of bodies. If a magnet be disposed in such a 
manner as to facilitate the ascension of a weight, it will after- 
wards oppose its descent. Springs, after being unbent, 
require to be bent by a new force equal to that which they 
exercised ; and the gravity of the atmosphere, after forcing 
one side of the machine to the lowest point, must be itself 
raised again, like any other weight, in order to continue its 

We shall, however, give an account of various attempts to 
obtain a perpetual motion, because they may serve to show 
how much some persons have suffered themselves to be de- 
ceived on this subject. 

Fig. 62, pi 12.) 

Fig. 52, plate 12, represents a large wheel, the circum- 
ference of which is furnished, at equal distances, with levers, 
each bearing at its extremity a weight, and moveable on a 



iinge, so that in one direction they can rest upon the circum- 
ference, while on the opposite side, being carried away by the 
weight at the extremity, they are obliged to arrange them- 
selves in the direction of the radius continued. This being 
supposed, it is evident that when the wheel turns in the direc- 
tion a b Cy the weights A B and C will recede from the 
centre ; consequently, as they act with more force, they will 
carry the wheel towards that side ; and as a new lever will be 
thrown out, in proportion as the wheel revolves, it thence 
follows, say they, that the wheel vnll continue to move in the 
same direction. But, notwithstanding the specious appear- 
ance of this reasoning, experience has proved that the 
machine will not go ; and it may indeed be demonstrated 
that there is a certain position in which the centre of gravity 
of all these weights is in the vertical plane passing through 
the point of suspension, and that therefore it must stop. 

The case is the same with the following machine, which it 
would appear ought to move also incessantly. In a cylindric 
drum, in perfect equilibrium on its axis, are formed channels 
as seen in Fig. 53, which contain balls of lead, or a certain 

(.Fig, 53.) 

quantity of qidcksilver. In consequence of this disposition, 
the balls or quicksilver must, on the one side, ascend by 
approaching the centre ; and on the other must roll towards 



the circumference. The machine then ought to turn inces- 
santly towards that side. 

A third machine of this kind is represented Fig. 54. It 
consists of a kind of wheel formed of six or eight arms, pro- 
ceeding from a centre, where the axis of motion is placed. 
Each of these arms is furnished with a receptacle in the form 
of a pair of bellows, but those on the opposite arms stand in con- 

(Fig. 54.) 

trary directions, as seen in the figure. The moveable top of 
each receptacle has affixed to it a weight, which shuts it in one 
situation and opens it in the other. In the last place, the 
bellows of the opposite arms have a communication by means 
of a canal, and one of them is filled with quicksilver. 

These things being supposed, it is visible, that the bellows 
on the one side must open, and those on the other must shut ; 


consequently the mercury will pass from the latter into the 

former, while the contrary will be the cage on the opposite 


It might be difficult to point out the deficiency of this 
reasoning ; but those acquainted with the true principles 
of mechanics will not hesitate to bet a hundred to one that 
the machine, when constructed, will not answer the intended 

The description of a pretended perpetual motion, in which 
bellows, to be alternately filled with and emptied of quick- 
silver, were employed, may be seen in the " Journal des 
Savans " for 1685. It was refuted by Bemouilli and some 
others, and it gave rise to a long dispute. The best method 
which the inventor could have employed to defend his inven- 
tion would have been to construct it, and shew it in motion ; 
but this was never done. 

We shall here add another curious anecdote on this sub- 
ject. One Orfyreus annoimced, at Leipsic, in the year 1717, 
a perpetual motion, consisting of a wheel which would con- 
tinually revolve. This machine was constructed for the Land- 
grave of Hesse Cassel, who caused it to be shut up in a place 
of safety, and the door to be sealed with his own seal. At 
the end of forty days, the door was opened, and the machine 
was found in motion. This, however, affords no proof in 
favour of a perpetual motion ; for as clocks can be made to 
go a year without being wound up, Orfyreus' s wheel might 
easily go forty days, and even more. 

The result of this pretended discovery is not known. We 
are informed that an Englishman offered 80,000 crowns for 
this machine ; but Orfyreus refused to sell it at that price : 
in this he certainly acted wrong, as there is reason to think 
he obtained by his invention, neither money, nor even the 
honour of having discovered the perpetual motion. 

The Academy of Painting at Paris possessed a clock which 
had no need of being woimd up, and which might be con- 
sidered as a perpetual motion, though it was not so. But 
this requires some explanation. The ingenious author of 
this clock employed the variations in the state of the atmo- 
sphere for winding up his moving weight. Various artifices 
might be devised for this purpose; but this is no more a 
perpetual motion than if the flux and reflux of the sea were 
employed to keep the machine continually going; for this 

54 PEKPETUUM mobile; 

principle of motion is exterior to the machine, and forms no 
part of it. 

But enough has been said on this chimera of mechanics. 
We sincerely hope that none of our readers will ever lose 
themselves in the ridiculous and unfortimate labyrinth of 
such a research. 

To conclude, it is false that any reward has been promised 
by the European Powers to the person who shall discover the 
perpetual motion ; and the case is the same in regard to the 
quadrature of the circle. It is this idea, no doubt, that 
excites so many to attempt the solution of these problems ; 
and it is proper they should be imdeceived.* 

Dr. William Kenrick published " A Lecture on the Perpe- 
tual Motion," in 1770 and following year ; it is a quarto pam- 
phlet of ninety-two pages, now very rare, a copy of which, 
however, is in the valuable library connected with the Patent 
Office. We shall proceed to give it in an abridged form. 

In the Apology, occupying six pages, he says : — 

The mere exhibition of a self-moving machine, without a 
display of its mechanism, or the principles on which its 
motion is begun and continued, could produce no conviction. 
The fate of Orflfyreus and his machine is a proof of this. 
Scarce fifty years ago that whimsical mechanician exhibited a 
perpetual motion at Hesse Cassel, the constancy of whose 
operation was experienced for many weeks imder the most 
exact caution of the Landgrave of that Principality, whose 
testimony of such operation, as well as in favour of its con- 
struction (to the secret of which he was admitted), was given 
in the most explicit and determinate form. And yet, because 
Orffyreus would not display the mechanism without the pre- 
vious assurance of a premium of 200,000 florins (near twenty 
thousand pounds), or because he would not or could not dis- 
cover the principles on which it acted, his pretensions were 
neglected, his machine was destroyed by his own hands, and 
his life made a sacrifice to the. chagrin attending his disap- 
pointment. Twenty years had he racked his brains for in- 

* Recreations in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. First com- 
posed by M. Ozanam, greatly enlarged by M. Montucla, and translated 
into English and improved by Chs. Hutton, LL.D. and F.K.S. In 4 vols* 
8vo. 1803. [See vol. 2, p. 102 and plate 12.] 


vention, and expended a patrimonial competence with, parsi- 
mony in prosecuting his design. And, when success inspired 
the hope of reward, he found his ingenuity suspected of im- 
posture, and his industry rewarded with contempt. 

Whether any of his successors in the same pursuit will 
meet with a hetter fate is at length to be determined. One 
species of our predecessor's merit, however, I (adds Dr. Ken- 
rick*) presume myself at least entitled to, that of persever- 
ance ; it being now fifteen years since I first engaged in this 
undertaking, which I have since pursued with almost imre- 
mitted assiduity, and that not only at a considerable waste of 
time and expence, but imder the constant mortification of 
hearing it equally ridiculed, by those who do know, and by 
those who do not know, anything of the matter. 

It is, indeed, generally supposed, and as confidently 
affirmed, that the mathematicians have published demonstra- 
tions of the impossibility of a perpetual motion. But I can 
safely take upon me to affirm that no such demonstration was 
ever published by any. Within these twelve years past, the 
mathematicians who deny the possibility of a perpetual motion 
have been repeatedly and publicly called upon, both in the 
foreign and English prints, to produce a single instance of 
these demonstrations. They have not done it. They might 
have produced, indeed, the demonstrations of Huygens, De la 
Hire, and others, to prove, as Desaguliers very properly ex- 
presses it, the fallacy of the schemes of most of the pretenders 
to the perpetual motion. They proved nothing more ; and 
this was so far unnecessary, in that the fallacy evidently 
appeared in the discovery of the principle on which they were 

This was done in the last century by the celebrated Mar- 
quis of Worcester, in the presence of the King and his Court, 
at the Tower, by the exhibition of a wheel so contrived that, 
in revolving on its axis, it carried up several weights nearer 
its centre on one side than they descended on the other. The 
scheme was plausible, and to appearance practicable ; but, 
though the wheel was polite enough to turn about while his 

• We learn from Gorton's Biographical Dictionary that William 
Kenrick was born at Watford, and brought up to the business of a rule- 
maker. He procured a doctor's degree at Ley den, and died in 1779, less 
lamented than he might have been, owing to his generally malignant 
and vituperative style of writing. 


Majesty was present, it could not be prevailed upon to be so 
complaisant in his absence.* The mathematicians avenged 
themselves of the short triumph of the mistaken Marquis, 
but were equally mistaken themselves in thinking l^ey had 
routed the problem, or that, in hunting down the jackal, they 
had destroyed the lion. The perpetujed motion survived ; it 
had still its advocates ; Professor 'S Gravesande and John 
Bemouille maintained its practicability, the former giving 
his testimony in favour of Orffyreus's machine, after a long 
and scrutinous examination. It is not twelve years since this 
testimony was republished by Dr. Allaman, the present Pro- 
fessor of Natural Philosophy at Leyden, whose own opinion, 
given at the same time, is also greatly in favour of the disco- 
very. It is even some years later that a dissertation still 
more in its favour, written, if I am not mistaken, by the cele- 
brated De Gprter, of Petersberg, appeared in the " Philoso- 
phical Transactions " of Haarlem. My end is not to amuse 
or persuade, but, with due deference, to inform and convince. 
To remove every cause of objection, I must beg leave to 
expatiate somewhat at large on the theory of this discovery. 
It is with the more propriety I presume on this method, as 
the discovery to which 1 pretend has not been (as frequently 
happens) the effect of mechanical accident, but the premedi- 
tated result of mathematical reasoning and physical experi- 
ment. I shall proceed to elucidate the principal arguments 
d, priori, that prove the practicability of a perpetual motion 
to be the necessary consequence of the known and established 
laws of nature. 

Having proceeded thus far, he opens his lecture at page 7 with 
the Introduction ; and first " On the nature of motion in 
general,' ' which, in fourteen pages, being more metaphysical 
than mechanical, affords no extractable matter for our present 
object. Part 1, is " On the cause and effect of motion." 
This elementary part is needlessly laboured and elaborated 
through twenty-seven pages. In the course of his remarks he 
states : — 

The discovery of a perpetual motion, says De la Hire, 

* On what authority he presumes to make this statement of its inope- 
rativeness does not appear, and, indeed, seems quiie apocryphal. 


would be to discover a body at once heavier and lighter than 
itself. But this is not a fair state of the question. It is not 
necessary that all the parts of a perpetually-moving machine 
should be attached to, and inseparable from, each other ; 
which they must be, to constitute one gravitating body of a 
determinate weight. 

He proceeds to consider the nature of the circulation of 
the blood, pneumatic pressure, the steel-yard, real and 
relative weight, and spiral action. Again, we have Hobbes, 
Locke, and Stewart, in the same sentence with such language 
as — " I could almost as readily impute ingenuity to vegetables 
and dossils — to the sensitive plant and the loadstone — as 
mediation to muscles, or cogitabimdity to cockles, peri- 
winkles, and rock oysters !" In conclusion, he says : — 

I have endeavoured to make it appear that motion is the 
mechanical effect of the physical action of the primary ele- 
ments ; that the direction of motion only comes withm the 
province of animal intellect; that the vital system is sup- 
ported by mere mechanic motion, kept up by the elasticity of 
the solids and the gravity of the fluids composing the animal 
body; that by the same means a more simple inanimate 
system or machine may be framed, which may have the same 
property of continued action (or, as it is called, self-motion). 
And this is all that is, or can be, expected of a perpetual 
motion ; the momentum of which may be increased to any 
degree, according to the weight of the bodies employed and 
the work required to be done. 

• The second part of this lecture commences with a Proem 
of thirteen pages : — 

I am induced (he says) to trespass farther, by extending in 
like manner the subsequent divisions of it ; making the 
second and third parts of my printed syllabus the topics of 
the present reading, and reserving the last part, with the 
concluding experiment, to the third and flnal lecture. 

I pretend merely to the investigation of the general prin- 
ciples of mechanics, and even to illustrate these so far only 
as I conceive they relate to the immediate object of my lec- 
ture, the discovery of an artificial perpetual motion ; leaving 


the application of such principles, in the solution of particular 
phenomena, or the construction of particular machines, to 
such as make the different arts and sciences their peculiar 
study. ^ 

He very prudentiy ends, observing : — 

But I beg pardon, gentiemen, for the length of this digres- 
sive introduction, and shall proceed to the more immediate 
subject of my lecture. 

Section 1, of this lecture, is ^' On the composition and com- 
bination of motion." After discussing, in his own peculiar 
style, mechanical principles of motion, he adds : — 

It would require a volume, and that not a small oife, to 
illustrate these subjects, and support them by the necessary 
demonstrations and experiments. Should Providence give 
me life and health, therefore, they (his auditors) shall hare it. 
Indeed, I have already spent some years in preparing such a 
volume for the press. 

He is very prolix on gravity and motion, then commences 
Section 2, " On the communication and dissipation of motion." 
Five pages are occupied in discussing motion, in popular 
language, in the course of which he remarks : — 

. And as to the imperfectiy elastic bodies, their power of 
retaining or commimicating motion depends entirely on their 
vis inertia and weight ; nor can they on any occasion what- 
ever communicate a greater momentum to another body than 
they themselves possess. It is sufficient for the purpose of a 
perpetual motion that they can do this. And, indeed, here 
all the difficulty lies, viz., in the means of communicating the 
momentum or moving force of a heavy body to a light one. 
Now, the most virulent opponents to the practicability of 
perpetual motion have never pretended to demonstrate the 
impracticability of this communication. The qiwmodo, or 
means of effecting it, being the point in dispute. It is to 
this discovery that I pretend ; and to show that my preten- 
sions are well groimded, have taken the liberty to invite you 
to this lecture. 

The lectures appear to have been illustrated by a plate 
having two figures of a simple apparatus used to demonstrate 


the action of a spring and two unequal weights; also an 
inflexible ruler suspended between two unequal balls, — ^with 
both he experimented before his auditors ; but the engraving 
is wanting in the edition now used. In conclusion, he 
observes : — 

You see, gentlemen, I am purposely provided here with a 
very simple and clumsy app^-ratus. The perpetual motion 
does not need the assistance of friction wheels, or depend on 
the niggling nicety of tooth and pinion. If the practical part 
of my discovery be not superior to the manual dexterity of a 
village carpenter or country smith, I am satisfied. There 
will be no great discernment required to comprehend the 
design they are to put in execution. You will permit me, 
however, at present, to defer what I have farther to offer on 
the subject to another opportunity.* 

♦ A Lecture on the Perpetual Motion. Part the first. London, 1771. 
4to. Pp. 49. A Lecture on the Perpetual Motion. Part the second. 
London, 177 L 4to. Pp.43. An "Address »» follows the first title 
page, dated 24 Jan , 1771, signed W. Kenrick j and has a notice at the 
end that ** The plates will be delivered with the third and last part of the 
lecture." This "third and last part,'* if published, does not form part 
of the copy in the Patent Office library. 

60 PEHPETUUM moblle; 

Patexts of the setesteexth and eighteenth cex- 


The very fact of patenting inventions, ostensibly to go on 
gravitating without coining to a stand-still, so long as their 
materials endure, offers fair presumptive evidence of the 
unfaltering faith of their designers. And the tone of early 
scientific journals is by no means decidedly averse to offering 
encouragement to these workers in the dark. We cannot 
extend these remarks to recent patentees and journalists ; — 
the former generally deceive both themselves and others, and 
the latter now repudiate such productions. 

The following patents belong to the seventeenth century: — 

1630. — David Ramseye [No. 60], esquire, and one of the 
Groomes of the Privie Chamber. Among other claims to a 
patent for ^^ his great paines, industry, and chardge^^ in finding 
out the same, he names — '^ To make any sort of mills to goe 
on standing waters by continuall mocion, without the helpe of 
winde, waite, or horse." But no description is given or was 
then required. 

1635.— William Babtok [No. 79], gentleman, " by his 
own invention, labour and expense, hath gained the ^ skill of 
making of engines, which being put in order, will cause and 
maintain their own motions, with continuance and without any 
borrowed force of man, horse, wind, river, or brooke, whereby 
many several kinds of excellent rare works may be performed 
to the great good and benefit of the commonwealth, the like 
cause and means of which continuance of motion hath not been 
heretofore brought to perfection.^ " 


This patent, granted ia the reign of Charles L, for the term 
of 14 years, is in the usual form to secure the right to the 
patentee and the payment by him of the annual rent of ^' tenn 
pounds " into the Exchequer " att the Feast of the Annuncia- 
cion of the Blessed Virgin Marie, att Saint Michaell the Arch- 
angell,^' beyond which, and the above title, nothing is known 
of the invention itself. 

1662. — Ralph Wayne [No. 135]) gentleman, "hath, 
through his great charge, labour, and industry, attained the 
knowledge of ^an engine which, with the perpetual motion of 
it selfe, without the help or strength of any person or creature, 
will not only drain great levels of vast quantities of water, but 
also mines of fifty fathoms deep or more.' '^ 

This patent, granted in the reign of Charles XL, like the 
former gives only the title, and requires the yearly payment of 
ibur pounds per annum, for 14 years. 

Here follow patents of tlie eighteenth century : — 

1779. — John Dietbick Mulleb [No. 1228], of St. 
Jame8% Westminster, gentleman. "A machine or engine 
constructed on self-moving principles." It is "a double 
wheel, consisting of two frames, fixed on and at right angles to 
an axis, moving on and supported by two pivots or gudgeons.'^ 
£ach wheel has two or more oval apertures, and boxes and 
weights made to fit and slide in them, and are to operate on 
"teeth or trundles," like "a man acting in the wheel of a 
crane, and thus the powers which are generated in any machine 
depend upon the exact formation and relative position of these 
oval holes," &c. &c. 8cc. 

1782.— Hildebband Mobley [No. 1324], of Clement's 
Inn, Middlesex, gentleman. " New-invented wheel, engine, 
or machine, whereby to give or communicate to mills, clocks, 
timepieces, or other instruments or engines requiring the 
same properties, a constant and perpetual force and motion." 

" My said invented wheel, engine, or machine, whereby 

62 PEBPETunc mobile; 

to gire or commaniaUe to mills, clocks, timepieces, or other 
instmmeits or engines requiring the same properties, a con- 
stant and perpetual force and motion, has a framework* of 
wood, iron, or other metal to which the machinery is fixt and 
supported. It consists of a wheel which is divid^ on the rim 
or outward edge into any number of divisions in the manner of 
a water wheel, so that each division be sufficient to contain a 
round ball, which balls are made of wood, or hollow balls made 
of tin, copper, iron, or other metal, or of glass. These balls, 
as the wheel moves round, fall off on an inclined plane or 
spout, from whence they acquire sufficient velocity or force to 
enter through a passage a tall square tube filled either with 
quicksilver, water, or other fluids, which is there supported by 
the pressure of the outward air. As soon as those balls enter 
the aforesaid tube they will rise upwards therein, being lighter 
than the fluids, and through a certain number of new contrived 
valves which support the fluids alternately in the tube. When 
the balls are arrived at the top or broad head of the aforesaid 
tube, they are conducted to a wheel with a certain number of 
teeth, on which are placed lifters to lift the balls out of the said 
fluids. This said wheel is drove by another wheel with the 
same number of teeth and diameter, to which is joined a 
pulley, over which passes a cord, chain, catgut, silken thread, 
or any other line or twist, which, being joined at both ends, is 
passt over another pulley fixt to the axle of the great wheel, which 
great wheel, when loaded with the aforesaid balls, turns round 
the aforesaid two other wheels, by which means the balls are 
lifted out of and from the fluids, and fall on an inclined plane 
or spout, which lead to the great wheel. At the lower end of 
this inclined plane or spout is fixt a small wheel, which is put 
into motion by spokes fixt on the rim or outward edge of the 
great wheel, which turns the balls separately on itself to con- 
tinue the motion.^* 

1786.— Thomas Mead [No. 1543], of Sandwich, Kent, 
carpenter. ^^An automaton or machine upon a self-moving 
principle, which when in motion, will acquire and preserve 
velocity and force sufiicient to work every kind of mill, crane, 
pump, and all other engines and machines in general, and give 
motion to any sort of carriage or vessel.^^ This invention con- 


sjsts of ** a square frame of wood boarded close on the under 
side ; square posts of wood fixed into the bottom frame and top 
frame, boarded top and bottom, in which box moves a circular 
board, carrying the flies, wheel work, &c." And a complicated 
affair it is, to be sure. However, the patentee says, '* When this 
machinery is to be put in motion, the bottom frame, tube, and 
box, are to be filled with water, mercury, or some other fluid/* 
How it was intended to work is doubtful ; that it never did do 
daty is certain. 

1790.— CoNBADTJS ScHwiEBS [No. 1746], of Hoztony 
Middlesex, Doctor in Divinity. ^*A machine on a self- 
moving principle, or perpetual motion/* 

** Now know ye, that in obedience of the said letters patent, 
and the proviso therein contained, I, the said Conradus 
Schwiers, do hereby declare my said new invented self*moving 
principle, or perpetual motion, is made and performed in 
manner following, that is to say : — 

^ Two stiles or uprights marked in the plan (see opposite page) 
hereunto annexed, A, A, c&c, and fastened together by the 
• screws 1, 2, 3, and to the base at 4, 4, 4, 4, between which stiles 
or uprights run the wheel C, and the pinion D, and the two 
double pinions D, D, &c, over which double pinions runs the 
double chain E, E, &c., to which chain are fixed the bucketts 
F, F, &c. The chain is made with joints on each side and 
bans running across, equal in number to the cogs of the wheel 
C. Upon the same axle with the wheel C, on the farther side 
of the inner stile A, runs the wheel G, whose diameter is full 
double that of the wheel C ; and the pivot of the wheel G runs 
in the back H as the other pivot of the same axle runs in the 
front stile A. The wheel G is divided near the periphery into 
receptacles in number equal to the buckets on the chain, which 
receptacles are supplied with metal balls I, I, &c. from the 
buckets F, F, &c. by means of the gutter K, which balls by 
their weight forcing round the wheel G, and thereby lifting up 
the buckets F, F, &c. on one side as they go down on the 
other side, discharge themselves again at the gutter L, where 
they are taken up by the buckets F, F, &c., and discharged 
again at the gutter K, and are so repeated in a constant sue- 
oeasion as often as any receptacle is vacant in the wheel Gat 

66 FESPETUUM mobile; 

the gutter K for their reception, and by thai means the per- 
petual revolution is obtained, the upper ball being at the same 
time discharged from one bucket i^hea the lower ball is taken 
up by another.'* * 

1790.— John Haywood [No. 1750], of Long Acre, Mid- 
dlesex, draftsman and mechanic ^^ A machine for working 
mills and engines without the aid of fire, water, or wind, 
or in aid of all or any of those or any other powers.*^ 

^* The machine acts on a rotative principle, or, in other 
words, has a revolving circular or circulating motion round an 
axis, center, or centers. It may be made or constructed of 
any materials or matter whatsoever, so it be of sufficient 
strength to sustain the power of action when applied to any 
mill, engine, or machine to which action or motion can or may 
be communicated by a wheel. The size or dimensions of this 
machine are by no means confined, but may be varied or altered 
as circumstances may require. 

^^ References to the drawings of the machine hereunto 
annexed : — Fig. 1 is the section of the machine. A, A, B^ 
a cranked or double center, fixed to the stand or frame £> by • 
the bolts £. C, C, the wheel which turns or revolves round 
that part of the cranked center mark A« F, levers which turn 
or revolve round the cranked centf r B. G, G, rollers or 
weights which revolve in the circular guides or grooves by 
means of the leavers F. H, H, circular grooves or guides 
which are affixed to the inner sides of the wheeL N.B. — The 
distance from A to B is the radius in all cases to determine the 
space between the center of the guide or groove H and the 
center of the roller or weight G. The distance of the two 
concentric circles which form the guides or grooves H must be 
equal to the diameter of the roller or weight G. I, I, springs 
which stop the rollers or weights G from returning when at 
the horizontal diameter of the wheel. K, weights, which may 
be increased or diminished at pleasure. L, ledges which con- 
nect the sides of the wheel together. N.B. — By fixing cogs 
or teeth on the rim of the wheel, so as to connect it with any 

* Copied from the original specification. The same also occnrs in 
The Repertory of Arts and Manufactures, first series, vol. 7, 8vo., 1797, 
Art. XXIII., p. 165. 



mill, machrne, or engine to which motion can be given by a 
wheel, the power of this machine may be communicated." 
{Fig. 1.) 

1794.— Thomas Mead [No. 1979]^ of Sculcoates, York, 
engineer* ^^ Certain methods of exerting, putting, and con- 
tinuing in motion pneumatic chemical or pneumato-chemical 
apparatus.'* This is an arrangement of pipes, cylinders, stop- 
cocks, and ^^ a hollow fire grate," of which it would be folly 


to quote the description ; indeed, the patentee himself com- 
placently states — ^^ it was not for any particular apparatus for 
which the letters patent were granted !" 

1797. — RiCHABD Vabley [No. 2181], of Damside, Lanca- 
shire, merchant. ^ A new perpetual moving power.'* 

^^My invention consists of a method of applying the weight 
of the atmosphere upon a wheel in any other fluid, and by that 
means destroying its spring or reaction, the manner of doing 
which I describe as follows, agreeable to the drawing (Fig. 6) 
annexed : — 

" A is a circular vessel, made of copper or any other sub- 
stance, capable of containing water, and covered with a top 
part so as to be perfectly air tight. B is a wheel placed in the 
inside of the vessel, with its axle perpendicular, the uppermost 
part of which comes thro' the top of the vessel, and is made to 
work air-tight; the lower end runs in a step within the vessel, 
and no part of the wheel is to touch the vessel but its axis. 
C is a cylinder placed firmly upon the wheel. D is the piston, 
suspended by a chain to a strong spring fixed on the wheel* 
This spring is to be made of such strength as that when the 
whole weight of the atmosphere is upon the piston the air will 
only move it about one inch down. E is the tube leading from 
the axle, which is hollow from the top to the level of the wheel, 
so as to admit the external air by this tube to the piston D, 
which piston is a circular vessel, made air-tight, and exactly 
fits the cylinder. There is a joint in the tube E at F, which 
is made air-tight by leathers, so that when the piston descends 
the tube may give way to it. G is a small tube leading from 
the bottom of the cylinder to the center of the axle, and from 
thence brought out at the end of it, and by which the air is ex- 
tracted from the cylinder by means of an air pump, and a 
vacuum formed in it. On the top part, or any other con- 
venient place of the vessel, are fixed two cylinders or tubes, of 
a proportional size to the cylinders on the wheel, one of which 
is a condensing cylinder, by means of a screw and piston, and 
by which the water in the vessel may be compressed ; the 
other has its piston suspended at the bottom, and the top part 
of the fjjff^der being filled with air, as the other piston is 


screwed down this rises, and condenses the air in the cylinder, 
the spring of which keeps the water in the vessel pressed to all 
parts alike ; and when the air is extracted from the cylinder 

C, and the piston D is forced down by the external atmosphere 
into the cylinder, this pressure is continued, and the condensed 
air expands in proportion, and prevents any tendency to a 
vacuum being formed, which would cause a cohesion of all the 
parts. By this means the external air is suspended upon the 

70 PEKPETUUM mobile; 

wheel by the chain, the same as a weight, aod the spring of 
the atmosphere being taken from the cylinder, there is nothing 
to oppose this weight, there being no spring in water ; and 
this power may be increased in proportion to the size and 
number of cylinders on the wheel and its diameter.^'* 

The following strictures on Mr. Varley's machine for pro- 
ducing perpetual motion occur in the "Monthly Magazine :" — 

On the 23rd May, 1797, letters patent were granted to Mr. 
Richard Varley, of Damside, Bolton-le-Moor, county of Lan- 
caster, cotton manufacturer, for a machine for producing per- 
petual motion. 

The ignorant and prejudiced part of mankind have in all 
ages attached a folly to the pursuit of yarious mysteries of 
nature and science ; such as the ascertaining the longitude 
at sea, the variation of the magnetic needle, the transmuta- 
tion of metals, the quadrature of the circle, the adhesion of 
metallic particles, the repulsion of atmospheric particles, the 
essential differences between bodies to the exclusion of their 
attributes, and perpetual motion. The last has been thought, 
in the general meaning of the term, to be the most chimeri- 
cal, because all machines are composed of perishable sub- 

Mr. Varley's discovery of a new perpetual power appears, 
however, to promise as much utility as steam, wind, water, or 
any other force requisite for working mechanical apparatus. 

We present our readers beneath with the form of the 
opened superfices of his apparatus, with this peculiar advan- 
tage that it never diminishes its force, while the machine upon 
which it acts preserves its original form and solidity. 

[Here follows a description, as given in foregoing specifi- 

Thus, having described the machine, it appears that the 
principle of the discovery of the new power is effected by 
" converging the weight of the atmosphere on a wheel in any 
other fluid, and by that means destroying the repulsive 
quality, or re-action of the air." 

* Copied from the original patent. A copy is published in The 
Repertory of Arts and Manufactures, 8vo, 1799, vol. 10, first series, p. 9. 


The process Mr. Varley pursues in effecting his purpose is 
as follows : — ^The copper vessel is filled with water or any 
other fluid, with the other apparatus in it as hefore described. 
It is then closed with the cover, and by means of leather on 
the edges is made perfectly air-tight. In this condition, with 
the help of an air-pump, a vacuum is formed in the larger 
cylinder, over which cylinder is a spring that is acted upon 
by the condensed air conveyed into the piston through the 
tube F, and that produces the action of tiie wheel, because 
water has no spring. 

It is found that upon every square inch of the earth's sur- 
face there exists a weight of nearly sixteen pounds of common 
air, and that a column of mercury, whose elevation will be 
thirty inches, and its base one cubic inch, will weigh fifteen 
pounds avoirdupoise, at the rate of eight ounces for every 
cubic inch of mercury. Since this atmospheric power can be 
condensed by various means, the formation therefore of the 
vacuum in the cylinder, and the pressure of the condensed air 
against it, of course produces the revolution of the wheel, 
which is the effect sought for. 

The cylinders can be increased on the radii, or wheel-spokes, 
to any weight, as also may the condensed air. Consequently, if a 
toothed segment or cogged wheel of any description is fitted 
to it, it will receive the full action of the weight of the atmo- 
sphere as its impulsive power, and may be easily applied to 
any machine in the same manner as if it were acted upon by 
steam, wind, water, horses, weight, spring, or any description 
of muscular power necessary to produce motion.* 

The following is an editorial Note to Correspondents in 
« Nicholson's Journal of Philosophy, &c." 4to. 1797. Vol.1, 
p. 334:— 

I should be glad to give a description and drawing of 
Mr. Varley's machine for producing perpetual motion, as 
requested by Mr. Notlem, of Wisbech, if an attentive perusal 
of the specification enrolled in Chancery had shewn me any- 
thing tending to improve the theory or practice of mechanics. 
The description in the periodical work he mentions is not 
sufficiently clear to shew the whole of what the writer 

• The Monthly Magazine for 1797. Vol. 4 (July No.), p. 58. 

72 PEBPETITUM mobile; 

meant to explain, and I found the original equally imperfect. 
Mr. Varley's notion, obscured by some extraneous and unim- 
portant circumstances, appears to be, that if an exhausted 
cylinder be fixed to one part of the periphery of a wheel, and 
a piston fitted therein, the pressure of. the atmosphere on 
tliis last, supposed also to be attached to the wheel by a spring 
and chain (parallel to a tangent), will tend to drive it into the 
vacuum, and, if prevented by the shortness of the chain, will 
draw the wheel round. It is obvious to any person acquainted 
with statics, that the pressures on his wheel must counter- 
balance each other, and cannot produce motion. 

It has always been easy to shew the fallacy of schemes for 
perpetual motion in the particular instances ; but I have met 
with no clear enunciation of this project so general as to 
include every possible scheme, and evince its own absurdity. 
The difficulty of performing tiiis seems to arise from a want 
of direct and concise demonstrations of the fundamental 
principles of the lever, and the equal pressure of fluids in all 

Mr. Nicholson, in consequence of Mr. Varley's and Dr. 
Schwiers' patents, wrote as follows : — 

On the Meehankal Projects for affording a Perpetual Motion. 

In consequence of the notice* taken of Mr. Varley's 
attempt to produce a perpetual motion, I have been requested 
by several correspondents to state how far the mechanical 
scheme for which Dr. Conrad Shiviersf took out a patent in 
the year 1790, for the same object, may be worthy of atten- 
tion. I have, on that occasion, mentioned the difficulties 
which have prevented any clear general demonstration of the 
absurdity of this pursuit from being produced, though it has 
not been difficult to shew the fallacy of the individual plans. 
It does not, indeed, seem easy to enunciate the scheme itself. 
What, in universal terms, is the thing proposed to be done ? 
Is it to cause a body to act in such a manner that the re- ac- 
tion shall be greater than the action itself, and by that means 
generate force by the accumulation of the surplus ? Or, can 

• Nicholson's Phil. Jour. 4to. Page 334. 
t Read~-Dr. Schwiers. 


tite motion communicated be greater than that lost by the 
agent? Since these positions are evidently contrary to 
the physical axioms called the laws of nature, and frictions 
and resistances would speedily destroy all motions of simple 
uniformity, it may be presumed that S* Gravesande, who 
thought that all the demonstrations of the absurdity of 
schemes for perpetual motion contained paralogism, would 
haye stated the proposition under different terms. But, 
without entering upon this apparently unprofitable disquisi- 
tion, it may be useful, as well as entertaining, to make a few 
observations on the mechanical contrivances which depend on 
a mistaken deduction from the general theorem respecting 
the balance, among which that of Dr. Shiviers''^ must be 

There is no doubt'but numerous arrangements have been 
made, and still are laboured at by various individuals, to pro- 
duce a machine which shall possess the power of moving 
itself perpetually, notwithstanding the inevitable loss by fric- 
tion and resistance of the air. Little, however, of these 
abortive exertions has been entered upon record. The plans 
of Bishop Wilkins, the Marquis of Worcester, and M. Orfy- 
reus, are all which at this time occur to my recollection. 

There is no doubt but the celebrated Wilkins was a man 
of learning and ability. His essay towards a real character 
and a philosophical language is sufficient to render his name 
immortaL Twenty years before the appearance of that work, 
lie published his '^ Mathematical Magic," namely, in the year 
16&, containing 295 pages, small octavo, which, from the 
nnmber of copies still in being, I suppose to have been a 
very popular treatise. It is in this work that I find, among 
other contrivances for the same purpose, a wheel carrying 
sixteen loaded arms, similar to that deHneated in Fig. 4, plate 
16, in which, however, for the sake of simplicity, I have 
drawn but six. Each lever, A B C D E F, is moveable 
through an angle of 45^, by a joint near the circumference of 
the wheel, and the inner end or tail of each is confined by 
two studs or pins, so that it must either lie in the direction 
of a radius, or else in the required position of obliquity. If 
the wheel be now supposed to move in the direction E F, it 
is evident that the levers A B C D, by hanging in the oblique 

• Read — Dr. Schwiers. 



position against the antecedent pins, will describe a less 
circle in their ascent than when, on the other side, they come 
to descend in the positions E F. Hence, it was expected 
that the descending weights, having the advantage of a 
longer lever, would always predominate. Dr. Wilkins, by 
referring the weights to an horizontal diameter, has shewn 
that in his machine they will not. A popular notion of this 
result may also be gathered from the figure, where there are 
three weights on the ascending, and only two on the descend- 
ing side; the obliquity of position giving an advantage in 
point of number, equal to what the other side may possess in 

(Fig. 4, pi 15.) 

intensity. Or, if this contrivance were to be strictly ex- 
amined, on the supposition that the levers and weights were 
indefinitely numerous, the question would be determined by 
shewing that the circular arcs A K, H I, are in equilibrio 
with the arcs A G, G L. 

The simplest method of examining any scheme of this 
kind with weights, consists in enquiring whether the perpen- 
dicular ascents and descents would be performed with equal 
masses in equal times. If so, there will be no preponder- 


ance, and, consequently, no motion. This is clearly the case 
witii the contrivance before us. 

The Marquis of Worcester, who will ever be remembered 
as the inventor of the steam engine, has described a perpetual 
motion in the fifty-sixth No.* of his " Century of Inventions," 
published in the year 1655, and since reprinted in 1767 by 
tiie Foulis's at Glasgow. His words were as follow : — 

" To provide and make, that all the weights of the de- 
scending side of a wheel shall be perpetually further from 
the centre than those of the mounting side, and yet equal in 
number and heft to the one side as the other. A most incre- 
dible thing if not seen, but tried before the late King (of 
blessed memory) in the Tower by my directions, two extraor- 
dinary ambassadors accompanying his Majesty, and the Duke 
of Richmond and Duke Hamilton, with most of the Court, 
attending him. The wheel was fourteen feet over, and forty 
weights of fifty pounds a-piece. Sir William Balfour, then 
Lieutenant of the Tower, can justify it with several others^ 
They all saw, that no sooner these great weights passed the 
diameter line of the lower side, but they hung a foot further 
from the centre ; nor no sooner passed the diameter line of 
the upper side, but they hung a foot nearer. Be pleased to 
judge the consequence." 

Desaguliers, in his *' Course of Experimental Philosophy,'* 
vol. 1, page 185, has quoted this passage, and given a sketch 
of a pretended self-moving wheel, similar to Fig. 5, plate 16, 
as resembling the contrivance mentioned by the Marquis of 
Worcester. The description of this last engineer agrees, how- 
ever, somewhat better with the contrivance Fig. 4. It must, 
of course, be a mistake in terms, when he says the weight 
receded from the centre at the lower diameter, and approached 
towards it at the upper : the contrary being in fact necessary 
to a£ford any hope of success ; and accordingly in the quota- 
tion it is so stated. I am, therefore, disposed to think that 
Fig. 5 represents the wheel of Orfyreus at Hesse Cassel, much 
talked of about the year 1720, and which probably was made 
to revolve, during the time of exhibition, by some concealed 
apparatus. It consists of a number of cells or partitions, 
distinguished by the letters of the alphabet, which are made 
between the interior and exterior surfaces of two concentric 

* 1663 is the date of the first printed edition, and 1359 date of the MS. 

76 PEEPETUFM mobile; 

cylinders. The partitions being placed obliquely with respect, 
to the radius, a cylindrical or spherical weight placed on each, 

{Fig, 5, pi, 15,) 

it is seen from the figure, that these weights will lie against: 
the inner surface of the large cylinder whenever the outer 
end of the bottom partition of any cell is lowest ; and, on 
the contrary, when that extremity is highest, the weight will 
rest on the surface of the interior cylinder. Let the wheel be 
made to revolve in the direction ABC; the weights in C D* 
E F G H I being close to the external circle, and the weights 
K L M A B close to the inner, for the reasons last mentioned. 
As the cell B descends, its weight will likewise run out, at the 
same time that the weight in the cell I will run in, in conse- 
quence of its partition being elevated. By the continuation 
of this process, since all the weights on the descending side 
pass down at a greater distance from the centre, while those 
of the ascending side rise for a considerable part of their 
ascent at a less distance from the same point, it is concluded 
that the wheel will continue to maintain its motion. On this, 
however, it is to be remarked, that the perpendicular ascent 
and descent are alike, both in measure and in time of per- 
formance ; and that the familiar examination, even to those 
who know little of such subjects, is sufficient to show that 
the preponderance is not quite so palpable as at first it 
appears. For the weights G and F, H and £, I and D are 
evidently in equilibrio, because at the same horizontal dis- 
tance from the centre ; and if the favourable supposition that 


the weight B hath already ran out be admitted, it will then 
remain a question whether these two exterior weights, B and 
C, can preponderate over the four inner weights, K L M A. 
The more accurate examination of this particular contrivance 
will lead to thefollowing theorem : — In two concentric circles, 
if tangents be drawn at the extreme points of a diameter 
of the smaller, and continued till they intersect the larger, 
the common centre of gravity of the arc of the greater circle 
included between the^tangents, and of the half periphery of 
the smaller circle on the opposite side of the diameter, will 
be the common centre of the circles. If, therefore, the balls 
were indefinitely numerous and small, the supposed effective 
parts of the wheel (Fig. 6) would be in equilibrio, as well as 
the parts beneath the horizontal tangent of the inner circle. 

Fig. 6 represents the contrivance of Dr. Shiviers,* which, in 
a periodical publication, in other particulars respectable, has 
been said to continue in motion for weeks and even months 
together. There is not the smallest probability that it should 
continue in motion for half a minute, or nearly as long as a 
sifnple wheel would retain part of its first impulse. The external 
circle denotes a wheel carrying a number of buckets, ABIL, &c. 
C represents a toothed wheel, on the same axis, which drives 
a pinion D ; and this last drives another pinion £ upon the 
axis of a lanthom, or wheel intended to work a chain-pump 
with the same number of buckets as in the larger wheel A 
B I. The lanthom G is made of such a size as to receive 
the buckets abil with a due velocity. K represents a gutter, 
through which a metallic ball, contained in the bucket m, may 
run and lodge itself in the bucket A of the wheel. Each of 
the buckets of the wheel, B I L M, which are below the 
gutter, is supplied with a metallic ball, and so likewise are the 
ascending buckets, a b il m, of the chain-pump. As the 
pump supplies the wheel, it is again supplied at M, where the 
balls fall into its ascending buckets. Now, it is presumed 
that the balls in the wheel, I suppose on account of their 
distance from the centre of motion, will descend with more 
than sufficient force to raise those on the chain, and, conse- 
quently, that the motion will be perpetual. 

The deception in this contrivance has much less seduction 
than in the two foregoing, because it is more easily referred 

• Should be Dr. Schwiers. The patent bears date 1790 [No. 1745]. 


PEBPETUUM mobile; 

to the simple lever. This, like the others, exhihits no pro- 
spect of success, when tried by the simple consideration of 

(Fig. 6, pi. 15.) 

the equality of the ascent' and descent in the whole time of 
the rotation of a single ball. It may also be shewn, from 
the principles of wheel-work, which are familiar to artisans, 
that whatever is gained by the excess of the diameter of the 
great wheel beyond that of the wheel C, is again lost by the 
excess of the lanthom A beyond the pinion E. 



The fundamental proposition of the simple lever or balance, 
that equal bodies at an equal distance from the fulcrum will 
equiponderate, but that at unequal distances the most remote 
mU descend, has in these and numberless other instances led 
mechanical workmen and speculators to pursue tbis fruitless 
enquiry with labour and expense often ill-a£forded, and with a 
degree of anxiety and infatuation which can hardly be con- 
ceived by those who have never suffered the pain of hope 
long deferred. For this reason chiefly, it has appeared de- 
sirable and useful to treat the subject in a familiar way, without 
descending to those expressions of contempt, whicb igno- 
rance, harmless to aU but itself, is surely not entitied to. If 
such reasoners were well convinced that the power of a 
machine is to be estimated by the excess of motion referred 
to the perpendicular, without any regard to the apparent 
centre of the machine, and that in machines very little com- 
pounded it is possible to produce effects directly contrary to 
the rule which is true of the simple lever, they would proba- 
bly renounce many flattering projects, grounded only on the 
supposition of its universality. Desaguliers contrived an 
apparatus in which two equal weights may be placed at any 
distance whatever from the centre of motion, and still con- 

Compound Balance^ 

(Fig. 3, pi 15.) 

tinue in equilibrio. Fig. 3 represents this instrument. A D 
denotes a balance with equal arms, and E F another of the 



same cdmensions. These move on the centres B and C, and 
are connected by the inflexible rods A E and D F; the 
motion being left free by means of joints at the comers. 
Across the rods A D, E F, are fixed two bars, I E, L M. 
Now, it is unnecessary to shew that the weight G will de- 
scribe exactly the same line or circular arc, when the leyers 
are moyed into the position a d/e^ or any other position, as it 
would have described in case it had been suspended at A, or 
E, or E ; and that it is of no consequence in this respect at 
what part of the line A E or I K it be fixed. The same 
observations are true of the weight H on the other side. 
And accordingly it is found that these equal weights may be 
suspended anywhere on the lines I E and L M without alter- 
ing their equilibrium. 

By this contrivance it is most evidently proved, to those 
who are totally imacquainted with the theory, that weights do 
not preponderate in compound engines, on account of their 
distance from the centre. Several other contrivances may be 
made to the same efiect. The following combination of 
(Fig, 2, pL 15.) 


wheel-work presented itself to me as one which would most 
probably be mistaken for a perpetual motion. (Fig. 2, plate 
15.) The dye circles represent the same number of wheels, of 
equal diameter and number of teeth, acting together. The 
middle wheel A is fixed between two upright pillars, so that 
it cannot revolye. The other four wheels are pinned in a 
frame H I, in which they can revolve, and through which the 
axis of A likewise passes. From the extremity of the axis 
of D, and also of d^ proceed the horizontal levers H K and I 
U which are equal, and point in the same direction parallel 
to the plane of the wheels. At the extremity of these arms 
hang the equal weights P and p. Let it now be imagined 
that the end I of the frame is depressed, the wheel B will 
turn round by the re-action of the fixed wheel A in the same 
direction as H I, and it will make one revolution in the same 
time relative to the frame, or two with regard to absolute 
space, by reason of its being carried round. The action of B 
upon D will produce a rotation relative to the frame in the 
opposite direction during the same time. Instead, therefore, 
of two revolutions, like the wheel B, this wheel D, with regard 
to absolute space, will not revolve at all, and in every posi- 
tion of the apparatus the arm I L will continue horizontal, 
and point the same way. For similar reasons, the arm H K 
will retain its position. Consequently, it is seen that the 
descending weight will move at a great horizontal distance 
from the centre N, while the ascending weight rises very near 
that centre. But there will not on this account be a perpe- 
tual motion : for the action of the levers H K and I L upon 
the frame H I, by means of the toothed wheels, will in the 
detail be found precisely alike, and in the general considera- 
tion of the motions of P and p, the opposite motions in the 
circle E F G will be accurately the same. 

It has always been considered as essential to a perpetual 
motion, that it should be derived from some energy which is 
not supposed to vary in its intensity. Such are the inertia, 
the gravity or magnetism of bodies. For an occasional or 
periodical variation of intensity in any force is evidently pro- 
ductive of motion, which requires only to be accumulated or 
applied, and the apparatus for applying it cannot be con- 
sidered as a machine for perpetual motion. Neither, in strict- 
ness, can any machine whose motion is derived from the 
rotation of the earth, and the consequent change of seasons 


PEKPETUUM mobile; 

and rotation of events, be to considered, because it does not 
generate, but only communicates. The perpetual flow of 
rivers ; the vicissitudes of the tides ; the constant, periodical 
and variable winds ; the expansions and contractions of air, 
mercury, or other fluids, by daily or other changes of tem- 
perature ; the diflferences of expansions in metals, by the 
same change ; the rise and fall of the mercury in the baro- 
meter ; the hygrometric chang:e8 in the remains of organized 
beings, and every other mutation which continually happens 
around us, may be applied to give motion to mills, clocks, 
and other engines, which may be contrived to endure as long 
as the apparatus retains its figure.* 

1801. — Specification of the Patent granted to Joseph Gaston John 
Baptiste, Count de Thiville [2472], of Piccadilly, in the County 
of Middlesex t for " Certain new methods of giving an independent 
moving power to all machines, by means of hydraulic engines ; and 
also of constructing and employing separately several of their 
parts, such as wheels, pistons, and apparatus for reducing friction, 
upon new principles,** — Dated February 5, 1801. 

To all to whom these presents shall come, &c. Now know 
ye, that in compliance with the said proviso, I, the said 
Joseph Gaston John Baptiste, Count de Thiville, do hereby 
declare, that my said invention consists in the application of 
certain hydrostatical principles not at all or but little known 
till now, which contrary to the laws of statics in solid bodies, 

give to incompressible fluids 
the property of rising almost 
spontaneously above the 
place from which they have 
fallen. Without accounting 
for the causes, I will con- 
fine myself to eflects founded 
on experiments, and give 
some specimens of these prin- 
ciples, and of the conse- 
quences resulting therefrom. 
Let Fig. 1 be an empty tube, 
(Fig, 1, pL 14.) ^^^ stopped at bottom or top 

♦ A Journal of Natural Philosophy, Chemistn', and the Arts. By 
WUliam Nicholson. Vol. 1. 4to. 17S>7. Page 875. 



air-tight. If it be immersed into water and suddenly opened, 
the fluid will rise to a, fall to b, rise again to c, and so on 
till it flx itself at d, which is the level of the fluid. 

[He then proceeds to describe Fig. 2 as "a vertical sec- 
tion of a chest fastened in a large reservoir or pond." Four 
other figures are given to illustrate this plan on the preceding 
principle of giving motion to machinery. That he had not 
reduced his plans to practice, appears from the following : — ] 

At what height, in what quEintity, and at what expence of 
power can the water be raised, are likewise liable to great 
variations, and can only be ascertained by experiments on 
large scales, and in open water. 

[Some " Observations by the Patentee ** are added, on 
*' Friction in Fluids," on " Resistance of Fluids," and] 

Pebpetuax Motion. — ^Without prejudging anything upon 
the principles I have introduced in my specification, — which 
principles I consider as a theorem from which every one may 
draw the corollaries, — I will confine myself within the limits 
I have prescribed, and propose the following problem : — 

— 'H^ 





5::-- ^ r^ NhSwS 

~. — -. ^-r-^ rr-'TT":'z~;^ 

{Fig. 13, pL 14.) 

Let A (Fig. 13) be a wheel or cylinder turning on its 
gudgeon b; ece is an assemblage of sheets of any material 

84 PERPETUUM mobile; 

or stuff; these sheets pass between thin plates or wires 
fastened in a fixed box, ii; at o o they pass freely between 
small cylinders or rollers, turning in another fixed box, V. 
Instead of being so separated, they may be pressed close to 
each other by passing between two rollers, u u. Thus, the 
apparatus being so disposed, and the level of the water being 
as at 6? ^, I say the phenomenon of spontaneous ascent of 
fluids in capillary tubes or spaces, ought to take place between 
the sheets at i i ; and it ought not to do so at o o, or at u «, 
by their being too close to or distant from each other. That 
being established, 1 represent by Y the power acquired by 
the ascent of the fluid at i i ; I represent by Z the mechanical 
resistance occasioned by the rubbing of the sheets against 
the cylinders at o o, or by their pressure at u u Now, I ask 
how, and at what point, the laws which preside over the 
phenomena of nature at i i, and those which regulate the 
mechanical effect at o o or t/ ti, coincide so as to determine a 
constant ratio between the power and the resistance; and 
finally, what is the ratio between Y and Z. 

It is obvious that if Z is greater than or equal to Y, the 
machine will remain immovable. If, on the contrary, Y is 
greater than Z, the machine once put in motion will never 

♦ The Repertory of Arts and Manufactures. 8vo. 1801. Vol. 14, p. 289. 





ACADEMY, 1837-56. 

Nothing later than 1733 appears to have heen brought 
before the Royal Society on Perpetual Motion, and the follow- 
ing papers are chiefly remarkable as being derived from its 
Transactions : — 

Observations of Dr* Paphiy Fellow of the Royal Society, on a French 
Paper concerning a Perpetual Motion. 

The paper printed in French, and containing a contrivance 
for perpetual motion, being set down in such a manner that 
can hardly be understood but by those that are much ac- 
quainted with such descriptions, I have endeavour' d to 
explain it as follows : — 

Let D E F be a pair of bellows forty 
inches long, that may be open'd by re- 
moving the part F from E ; let them be 
exactly shut everywhere but at the 
aperture E ; and let a pipe E G, twenty 
or twenty-two inches long, be soldered 
to the sayd aperture E, having its other 
end in a vessel G, full of mercury, and 
placed near the middle of the bellows. 

A is an axis for the bellows to turn 

B, a counterpoise fastened to the 
lower end of the bellows. 

C, a weight with a clasp to keep the 
bellows upright. 

Now, rf we suppose the bellows 
open' d only to i or J, standing upright, and 
full of mercury, it is plain that the sayd 
mercury, being forty inches high, must 
fall, as in the Torricellian experiment, 
to the height of about twenty-seven 
inches, and, consequently, the bellows 
must open towards F, and leave a 
vacuity there. This vacuity must be {Fiq. 184, ph 5.) 


PEKPETUUM mobile; 

filled with the mercury ascending from G through the pipe G E, 
the sayd pipe being but twenty-two inches long; by this 
means the bellows must be opened more and more, till the 
mercury continuing to ascend makes the upper part of the 
bellows so heavy that the lower part must get loose from the 
clasp C, and the bellows should turn quite upside down ; but 

(Fig, 185, pi. 5.) 

the vessel G being set in a convenient place, keeps them 
horizontal, and the part F engageth there in another 
clasp C ; then the mercury, by its weight, nms out from the 
bellows into the vessel G through the pipe E G, and the bel- 
lows must shut closer and closer untill the part E F comes to 
be so light that the counterpoise B is able to make the part F 
get loose from the clasp C ; then the bellows come to 
be upright again ; the mercury left in them falls again to 
the height of twenty-seven inches, and, consequently, all the 
other effects will follow as we have already seen, and the 
motion will continue for ever. Thus much for the French 

Upon this it is to be observed, that the bellows can never 
be opened by the internal pressure, imless the sayd pressure 
be stronger then the extemall ; now, in this case, the weight 
of the atmosphere doth freely press up the outward part of 
the bellows, but it cannot come at the inward part but 
through the pipe G E, which, containing twenty-two perpendi- 
cular inches of mercury, doth counterpoise so much of the 
weight of the atmosphere, so that this being supposed to be 
twenty-seven inches of mercury, it cannot press the inward 
part of the bellows but with a weight equivalent to five per- 
pendicular inches of mercury. From this we may conclude, 


that the pressure of the atmosphere, being weakened within 
the bellows more then it can be helpt by the mercury con- 
tained in the same, as may easily be computed, the sayd 
bellows standing upright must rather shut then open. 
Thus, without losing any labour and charges in trying, people 
may be sure that the thing can never do.* 

Some further Remarhs on the Instrument proposed hy an Anomymous 
French Author for effecting a Perpetual Motion, an account whereof 
isgioen in No* 177 of these Transactions. By Dr. Fapin, M.D. , R.S. S. 

Having seen in the " Journal des Savans " of May 13, 
and in the " Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres " of the 
month of Jime, that the author of the perpetual motion is 
not satisfied, but doth endeavour to answer the objection that 
I propounded against his contrivance in the " Philosophical 
Transactions " of the month of December, 1685, I find I 
must explain myself more at large than I' did in that paper ; 
but I begg his pardon if I say nothing concerning the new 
disposition which he says might be given to his engine. My 
want of time makes me avoid new matters of dispute, and I 
think it enough for me, if I do but shew that his first descrip- 
tion can never succeed. 

I am very sorry that this author took so much trouble in 
trying his bellows with several liquors, as oyl, mercury, water. 
I thought I had sayd nothing that might make him believe 
that I did in the least question the truth, which he intended 
to prove against me by those experiments ; and without any 
tryals I am ftdly enough convinced, that the mercury in his 
engine must follow the laws of the sequilibrium of fluid 
bodies. But the consequence which he draws from that prin- 
ciple seems to me very groimdless ; for, altho' the lowermost 
part of the bellows be presst by the weight of forty inches of 
mercury, it doth not follow that all the parts which are situ- 
ated higher must bear the same pressure. To the quite con- 
trary, it is plain that the upper part, having no mercury above 
it, bears none at all ; the parts that lye in the middle near the 
axes of the bellows bear but twenty inches, and so all the 

* The Philosophical Transactions. Vol. 15, for the year 1685. 4to. 
Page 1240. Also, the Phil. Trans, and Collections to the end of the 
year 1700, abridged, in 3 vols. By John Lowthorp, M.A. and F.11.S. 
Vol. I,4to.,l70o, p. 592. 

88 PEKPETUXJM mobile; 

rest must bear more or less according as they lye higher or 
lower. It is evident, therefore, that there are as many parts 
that bear less then twenty inches as there are that bear more, 
and the increase of pressure following an arithmetical pro- 
gression, it is undenyable that all these pressures added toge- 
ther will do no more than one uniform pressure that would be 
equal to twenty inches everywhere. 

Having thus found the quantity of pressure caused by the 
mercury within the bellows, we must remember that the pres- 
sure of the atmosphere within the same bellows is equivalent 
but to five inches, as I observed in my first paper, vid, " Philo- 
sophical Transaction," No. 177, page 1241 : so that we find 
that the inward pressure is equivalent but to twenty-five 
inches of mercury in all. Now, the pressure of the atmo- 
sphere upon the outside is everywhere equal to twenty-seven 
inches ; from whence it appears that the pressure without is 
stronger than the pressure within, and so I had reason to say, 
that the bellows standing upright, must rather shut than open. 

I did not think to have given this computation so at large, 
but I have been necessitated to do it (as I said in the begin- 
ning), since my first paper was not sufficient to make me be 
imderstood by the author of the perpetual motion. However, I 
will be careful to save the time of the reader as much as I 
can ; and although I might observe some other things in his 
description that will increase the difficulty of opening the 
bellows, I forbear to speak of them, and I will stick only to 
that which is most material, and make his perpetual motion to 
be altogether impossible. 

As for the argument the author drawes from comparing his 
engine to an ordinary siphon, I do beseech him to consider 
what a difierence there is between a siphon that lets the 
water rim down at the bottom, and his engine, that should 
gather up the heavy liquor into the highest part of the instru- 
ment, and I do not question but he will acknowledge the 
weakness of this argument.* 

An answer of Dr. Papin to the Author of the Perpetual Motion. 

In the last papers I published in " Philosophical Transac- 
tion " No. 184, against this perpetual motion described in 

• The Philosophical Transactions. Vol.16, for the years 1686 and 
1687. No 182, June, 16.S6, p. 138. 


No. 177j I intreated the author to permit me to say nothing 
as to what alterations he might make in his engine, resolving 
to leave it to others to shew him that upon that principle aU 
he can do signifies nothing. But I find since, in the " Nou- 
Yelles de la Kepublique " for December last, that he still per- 
sists to urge some new contrivances, which being added, he 
conceives his engine must succeed. To this I answer, that I 
undertook only to shew that his first device woidd faile, which 
yet I should scarce have done if I had thought a dispute of 
this nature could have lasted so long. To come, therefore, to 
the point where he saith that this engine may well succeed 
without alteration, because he hath tryed with liquors put into 
bellows immersed in water ; I again say that I grant him 
the truth of the experiments, but deny the consequences he 
would draw from them. I have already given the reasons of 
my dissent, which this gentleman is not pleased to imder- 
stand. But to end all controversies, he may please to con- 
sult Mr. Perrault, De la Hire, or any other at Paris well known 
to be skilled in hydraulicks, and I doubt not but he will find them 
of the same opinion with Mr. Boyle, Mr. Hook, and other 
knowing persons here, who all agree that our author is in this 
matter under a mistake.* 

A Proposition on the Balance^ not taken notice of by Mechanical 
Writers, explained and confirmed by an Experiment. By the Rev. 
J. TrDesaguliert, LL,D., F.R.S. 

Theor. 6. — ^A B is a balance, on which is supposed to 
hang at one end, B, the scale E, with a man in it, who is 
counterpoised by the weight W hanging at A, the other end 
of the balance. I say, that if such a man, with a cane or 
any rigid straight body, pushes upwards against the beam 
anywhere between the points C and B (provided he does not 
push directly against B), he will thereby make himself 
heavier, or overpoise the weight W, though the stop G G 
hinders the scale E from being thrust outwards from C 
towards G G. I say likewise, that if the scale and man 
should hang from D, the man, by pushing upwards against 
B, or anywhere between B and D (provided he does not 
push directly against D), will make himself lighter, or be 

•"* The Philosophical Transactions. Vol. 16, 1686-7. No. 186, 
January, 1687, p. 267. 


overpoised by the weight W, which before did only counter- 
poise the weight of his body and the scale. 

If the common center of gravity of the scale E, and the 
man supposed to stand in it, be at k, and the man, by thrust- 
ing against any part of the beam, cause the scale to move 
outwards so as to carry the said common center of gravity to 
'A X, then, instead of B E, hi will become the line of diec- 
tion of the compound weight, whose action will be increased 
in the ratio of L C to B C. This is what has been explained 
by several writers of mechanics ; but no one, that I know of, 
has considered the case when the scale is kept from flying 
oat, as here by the post G G, which keeps it in its place, as 
if the strings of the scale were become inflexible. Now, to 
explain this case, let us suppose the length B D of half of 
the brachium B C to be equal to 3 feet, the line B E to 4 
feet, the line E D of 5 feet to be the direction in which the 
man pushes, D F and F E to be respectively equal and 
parallel to B E and B D, and the whole or absolute force 
with which the man pushes equal to (or able to rise) 10 stone. 
Let the oblique force ED ( = 10 stone) be resolved into the 
two E F and E B (or its equal F D) whose directions are at 
right angles to each other, and whose respective quantities 
(or intensities) are as 6 and 8, because E F and B E are in 
that proportion to each other and to E D. Now, since E F 
is parallel to B D C A, the beam, it does no way affect the 
beam to move it upwards ; and therefore there is only the 
force represented by F D, or 8 stone, to push the beam 
upwards at D. For the same reason, and because action and 
reaction are equal, the scale will be pushed down at E with 
the force of 8 stone also. Now, since the force at E pulls 
the beam perpendicularly downwards from the point B, dis- 
tant from C the whole length of the brachium B C, its action 
downwards will not be diminished, but may be expressed 
by 8 X B C ; whereas the action upwards against D will be 
half lost, by reason of the diminished distance from the 

center, and is only to be expressed by 8 x^Ji ; and when the 
action upwards to raise the beam is substracted from the 
action downwards to depress it, there will still remain 4 stone 

to push down the scale ; because 8 x B C — 8 x^^ = 4 B C. 


Consequently, a weight of 4 stone must be added at the end 


A to restore the sequilibrium. Therefore a man, &c., pushing 
upwards under the beam between B and D, becomes heavier. 

On the contrary, if the scale should hang at F, from the 
point D, only 3 feet from the center of motion C, and a post 
G G hinders the scale from being pushed inwards towards C, 
then, if a man in this scale F pushes obliquely against B 
with the oblique force above mentioned, the whole force, for 
the reasons before given (in resolving the oblique force into 
two others acting in lines perpendicular to each other) will 
be reduced to 8 stone, which pushes the beam directly upwards 
at B, while the same force of 8 stone draws it directly down 
at D towards F. But as C D is only equal to half of C B, 
the force at D, compared with that at B, loses half its action, 
and therefore can only take off the force of 4 stone from the 
push upwards at B ; and consequently the weight W at A 
will preponderate, imless an additional weight of 4 stone be 
hanged at B. Therefore, a man, &c., pushing upwards under 
the beam between B and D, becomes lighter.* 

[The paper concludes with some further rules and experi- 

An Experiment explaining a Mechanical Paradox^ that two bodies of 
equal weight suspended on a certain sort of balance do not lose 
their aquUibrium by being removed, one farther from^ the other 
nearer to, the center. By the Rev, «/". T, Desaguliers^ LL,D,t 

Pbop. 7. — If the two weights P W hang at the ends of the 
balance A B, whose center of motion is C, those weights will 
act against each other (because their directions are contrary) 
with forces made up of the quantity of matter in each multi- 
plied by its velocity ; that is, by the velocity which the motion 
of the balance turning about C will give to the body suspended. 
Now, the velocity of a heavy body is its perpendicular ascent or 
descent, as will appear by moving the balance into the position 
a b, which shews the velocity of P to be the perpendicular 
line e a, and the velocity of B will be the perpendicular line 
b ^S for if the weights P and W are equal, and also the lines 
e a and b g, their momenta, made up of « a multiplied into 

* The Philosophical Transactions, from 1719 to 1733, thridged. 4to. 
London, 1734. Vol. 6, p. 306. 


W, and h g multiplied into P, will be equal, as will appear by 
their destroying one another in making an equilibrium. But 
if the body W was removed to M, and suspended at the 
point D, then, its velocity being only f d, it would be over- 
balanced by the body P, because / d multiplied into M 
would produce a less momentum than P multiplied into b g. 

As the arcs A o, B 6, and D d, described by the ends of 
the balance or points of suspension, are proportionable to 
their sines e a^ g h^ and d f, as also the radii or distances 
C A, C B, and C D ; in the case of this common sort of 
balance, the arcs described by the weights, or their points of 
suspension, or the distances from the center, may be taken 
for velocities of the weights hanging at A, B, or D, and 
therefore the acting force of the weights will be reciprocally 
as their distances from the center. 

Scholium. — The distances from the center are taken here 
for the velocities of the bodies, only because they are propor- 
tionable to the lines e a, b g, and / d, which are the true 
velocities ; for there are a great many cases wherein the velo- 
cities are neither proportionable to the distances from the 
center of motion of a machine, nor to the arcs described by 
the weights or their points of suspension. Therefore, it is not 
a general rule that weights act in proportion to their distances 
from the center of motion ; but a corollary of the general rule 
that weights act in proportion to their velocities, which is 
only true in some cases. Therefore, we must not take this 
case as a principle, which most workmen do, and all those 
people who make attempts to find the perpetual motion, as I 
have more amply shewn in the Phil. Trans., No. 369. 

But to make this evident even in the balance, we need 
only take notice of the following experiment : — ^A C B E K D 
is a balance in the form of a parallelogram passing through a 
slit in the upright piece N O standing on the pedestal M, so 
as to be moveable upon the center pins C and K. To the 
upright pieces A D and B E of this balance are fixed at right 
angles the horizontal pieces F G and H I. That the equal 
weights P W must keep each other in sequilibrio, is evident ; 
but it does not at first appear so plainly, that if W be re- 
moved to V, being suspended at 6, yet it shall still keep P in 
sequilibrio, though the experiment shews it. Nay, if W be 
successively moved to any of the points 1, 2, 3, E, 4, 5, or 6, 
the sequilibrium will be continued ; or if, W hanging at any 


of those points, P be successively moved to D, or any of the 
points of suspension on the cross piece F G, P will at any of 
those places ^make an sequilibrium with W. Now, when the 
weights are at P and V, if the least weight that is capable to 
overcome the friction at the points of suspension C and K be 
added to V, as w, the weight V will overpower, and that as 
much at V as if it was at W. 

From what we have said above, the reason of this experi- 
ment will be very plain. 

As the lines A C and K D, C B and K E, always continue 
of the same length in any position of the machine, the pieces 
A D and B E will always continue parallel to one another, 
and perpendicular to the horizon. However, the whole 
machine turns upon the points C and K, as appears by bring- 
ing the balance to any other position, SiS a b e d; and there- 
fore, as the weights applied to any part of the pieces F G and 
H I can only bring down the pieces A D and B E perpen- 
dicularly, in the same manner as if they were applied to the 
hooks D and E, or to X and Y, the centers of gravity of A D 
and B E, the force of the weights (if their quantity of matter 
is equal) will be equal, because their velocities will be their 
perpendicular ascent or descent, which will atWays be as the 
equal lines 4 I and 4 L, whatever part of the pieces F G and 
H I the weights are applied to. But if to the weight at V be 
added the little weight w, those two weights will overpower, 
because in this case the momentimi is made up of the simi of 
V and u multiplied by the common velocity 4 L. 

Hence follows, that it is not the distance C 6 multiplied 
into the weight V which makes its momentum, but its perpen- 
dicular velocity L 4 multiplied into its mass. Q.E.D. 

This is still further evident by taking out the pin at K ; for 
then the weight P will overbalance the other weight at V, 
because then their perpendicular ascent and descent will not 
be equal.* 

• The Philosophical Transactions, from 1719 to 1733, abridged. 4to. 
London, 1734. Vol. 6, p. 310. Another paper by Dr Desaguliers, being 
" Remarks on some attempts made towards a Perpetual Motion," from 
the Phil. Trans , abridged, 4to., 1734, vol. 6, p. 323, will be found trans- 
ferred to Chapter 11. 


yO PERPETUUM mobile; 

An Historical Account of a strangely Self-moving Liquor. Printed first 
in the Philosophical Transactions, No. 176 , p. 1 188, anno lG85,i;o/. 15. 

An ingenious teacher of mathematicks, having occasion to 
make a composition for a new fire-engine, whereof he was to 
shew his Majesty a trial, mingled divers ingredients in an 
earthen pot over kindled coals ; but could not or did not do it 
so warily, but that the matter took fire, and began to blaze 
furiously, which obliged him to stifle the blaze as hastily 
as he could ; and having removed the vessel from the 
fire, and suffered it to grow cold, when afterwards he came to 
look upon it, to see if what remained might be of any use to 
him, he was surprised to find it variously and briskly moved. 
Wherefore, having set it aside, to be sure that it might be 
thoroughly cold, he, after some hours, visited it again, and 
found it move as before ; and having cast store of seeds upon 
it, to see if the liquor would move them also, the bituminous 
part of it connected them into a kind of thick scimi,that covered 
most of the superfices, but yet left some intervals, in which 
the liquor appeared, and discovered that it continued its 
motions. Two days after, the engineer discoursing with me 
of this fire-work, about which he had advised with me before, 
told me, among other things, of this odd accident. And 
when I asked him if the motion continued still, and had been 
answered affirmatively, though it was then a dark night and 
ill weather, my diffidence or my curiosity made me engage 
him to send for the pot as it was, partly to be sure of the 
matter of fact, and partly to try if the knowledge I had of 
the ingredients, which he had before told me, would afford 
any hint of the cause of so odd an effect ; a like to which in 
kind, though not in degree, I had many years before devised, 
and successfully practised, the way of producing. 

The vessel being come, though the hasty transportation of 
it seemed to have sufficiently disturbed it, there did appear 
manifest signs of such a motion as the engineer had ascribed 
to it ; and, therefore, he being willing to leave it with me, I 
caused it to be set aside in a laboratory, where some furnaces 
kept the air constantly warm, and did there and elsewhere, 
at different times, look heedfuUy upon it, now and then dis- 
placing or quite taking off" some of the thick scum that too 
much covered the surface of it, and by this means I had the 
opportunity to take ixotice of several phaenomena, whereof 
these are the chief: — 


1. I observed that the motion of this liquor was not 
only brisk, but very various, so that having loosened some 
small portions of the scum, one of them would be carried 
towards the right hand for instance, and another towards the 
left, at the same time. 2. Where the liquor first came 
out from under the scimi, it seemed to move the most briskly, 
flowing almost like a stream whose motion upwards had been 
checked, and, as it were, reverberated by that incumbent 
obstacle. 3. Several motions in this liquor were the more 
easy to be observed, because, though it were dark, yet it was 
not uniform ; consisting in part of oily and bituminous ingre- 
dients, which, though they seemed to have but one common 
superficies with the rest of the liquor, yet, but their colours 
and power of vigorously reflecting the light, they were easily 
enough distinguishable from the rest. And I often observed 
that some of these unctuous portions of the matter, emerging 
to the surface of the liquor, though perhaps at first one of 
them would not appear bigger than a pin's head, yet, in 
moving forwards, it would at the same time difiuse itself 
circularly, and make, as it were, a great halo, adorned with 
the colours of the rainbow, and so very vivid as afforded a 
very pleasant, and at first surprising, spectacle ; these phan- 
tasms often nimbly succeeding one another, and lasting till 
they lost themselves against or under the thick scum. 4. The 
motions of this odd liquor were not only various, but fre- 
quently vortical ; to be satisfied of which, I sometimes put 
short bits of straw, or fragments of some such like stuff", 
upon the discovered part of the surface of the liquor, by 
which they were carried towards very distant, if not opposite, 
parts of the vessel at the same time. But to make the vorti- 
cal motion more evident, I several times detached consider- 
ably large pieces of the thick scum from the rest of the body, 
and had the pleasure to see them move both with a progres- 
sive motion in crooked lines, and with a motion about their 
own middlemost parts. All this while, the liquor, whose 
parts were thus briskly moved, was actually cold, as to sense. 
6. To observe what, the presence, or absence, of the free air 
woidd do to this liquor, I caused many spoonfuls of it, with 
some of the scum, to be put into a cylindrical glass, which, 
though large itself, had a neck belonging to it, that was but 
about the bigness of one's thimib, that it might be ,well 
stopped with a cork. But having, by this means, kept the 

100 PERPETUITM mobile; 

free air from having a frill and immediate contact with the 
whole surface of the mixture, as it had when that mixture 
lay in the wide-mouthed vessel, I could not perceive the 
liquor to move to and fro, no, not though the orifice of the 
neck were left open : whereas, having, at the same time, 
poured some of the liquor into a very shallow and wide- 
mouthed vessel, called in the shops a clear-caked glass, it 
moved rather more than less nimhly and variously than in 
the great earthen pot (which yet was of the same shape), 
and shewed us many of those vivid tnd self-dilating circles 
that have been mentioned in the third number ; and these, 
by the fineness of their colours and the quickness wherewith 
they succeeded one another, afforded a delightful spectacle 
as long as I stayed to observe the liquor. 6. Though the 
motions of the hitherto mentioned liquor did not seem to be 
always equally brisk, yet they appeared to continue manifest 
and various in some diversities of weather, as to cold and 
heat, and when I looked on it by candle-light as well as by 
daylight ; and when, being not well enough to visit it myself, 
I sent one purposely to look upon it, about ten o'clock at 
night, he brought me word that it continued to move as 
formerly, and so it has done for ten days ; and how much 
longer it will continue to do so, time must determine. 

Postscript. — Some time after the foregoing account had 
been written, when I came to look upon the liquor (which in 
the mean time had been several times viewed, and appeared 
to retain its motions), I found, to my trouble, that somebody's 
impertinent curiosity and heedlessness had cracked the lower 
part of the earthen pot ; at which overture, the liquor, though 
not the scimi, was run out ; which had put a period to our 
observations, but that, foreseeing that such an accident might 
happen, I had long before taken out some spoonfuls of the 
liquor, and kept it close stopped in a vial. By this means I 
had the opportimity to observe that, when I poured out the 
liquor into a wide-mouthed vessel, it would move £is before, 
though this were done some weeks after it had been put up. 
And I remember that long after, having one day received the 
honour of a visit from a foreign minister, who was an inquisi- 
tive person and a man of letters, we chanced, among other 
things, to talk of the liquor ; and though it were scarce to 
be hoped that it could still retain any of its motive virtue, 
yet, to gratify his curiosity, and that of some ingenious men 


there present, I caused the vial to be brought, and having 
unstopped it, I poured out the liquor into a convenient-shaped 
vessel, in which, after we had suffered it to rest awhile, they 
were delightfully surprised to see it move (though not, in my 
opinion, quite so briskly as before), yet very manifestly and 
variously. This encouraged me to think it possible that it 
might retain some motion, though but languid, seven or eight 
weeks after ; and therefore, on the 25th of July, I looked 
upon it again, and having caused it to be poured into a china 
cup, it manifested, at first, a brisk and various motion ; but 
this, after awhile, did so slacken that I began to have some 
suspicion that the motion it was put into by effusion and the 
first contact of the air might have given it the greatest part 
of its agitation. But this being but suspicion, I put the 
vessel into divers postures in a window, the better to discover 
the true cause of this phaenomenon ; but whilst I was busy 
about this, which ingrossed my attention, a mischance over- 
turned the cup, and, by throwing down the liquor, pi^t an 
end to my speculation : yet this mischance hindered me but 
from observing how long the odd agitation of our liquor 
would have continued, but not from finding that it lasted a 
great while ; for I shewed it the foreign minister about or 
after the beginning of June, that is, about five months or 
more after the liquor was first observed to move.* 

The following is extracted from a letter of S. Hartlib to 
Mr. Boyle : — 

I had lately received a letter from Mr. Oldenburg, amongst 
other particulars, in these words : — " In our passing through 
Mentz we met with a rare artist called Beckor, a young man, 
who hath found, he saith, the perpetual motion, the possibility 
whereof hath been hitherto so much disputed by philosophers. 
He hath almost finished a work, wherein he doth demonstrate 
his invention, which we have seen, and the design and way 
whereof the m*<jter told me himself, he would v/ithin a very 
few weeks put in print here at Francfort ; which being done, 
I shall send you a copy of it. — July 18, 1658." f 

• The Works of the Hon. Robt. Boyle, in 6 vols- 4to., 1772. Vol. 5, 
page 71. 

t Ibid. Vol. 6, page 113. 

102 PERPETUUM mobile; 

The following eminent authority is often adduced in 
Encyclopaedias ; but his paper is little, if at all, known, 
entitled — ** A Demonstration of the Impossibility of Perpetual 
Motion. By M. de la Hire. Written on the occasion of 
several schemes having recently appeared :" — 

There is not any of those who pretend to have found out 
perpetual motion, who do not agree that two weights placed 
in a position to move, following their natural direction in 
equal time, or in any way reciprocal to their weight, remain 
in equilibrium. Yet there is no perpetual motion scheme, 
where one cannot draw a conclusion quite opposed to this 
principle ; for, whatever may be pretended, perpetual motion 
is nothing more or less than the elevation of one weight to a 
certain height by the descent of another weight at the same 
time ; and reciprocally the restitution of the first to the place 
where it was before its movement, by the descent of the one 
that had been raised, and so on ad infinitum ; sometimes by 
means of weights, which, being raised, in their fall agitate 
other weights ; sometimes by means of liquid bodies, which, 
being raised, can run, and move other parts far separated 
from the centre of motion ; from which no advantage can be 
derived, and which is entirely contrary to the preceding 

Those who occupy themselves with this chimera, find 
nothing but embarrassment, for generally their machines 
have so many weights, &c., to move them, that their in- 
ventors forget always to be on their guard against the many 
hinderances that arise, — the height, &c., of the powers em- 
ployed, their natural direction, Sec, all these are sometimes 
so strangely jumbled together that it requires very hard 
work to be able rightly to distinguish them. This is one 
great reason that leads such persons to a false demonstration 
of perpetual motion ; and when they propose their beautiful 
inventions to those who are versed in science, and who 
cannot immediately make them see or understand in what 
way their reasoning is false, they then publish to the world 
that the very cleverest men have been convinced of the truth 
of their perpetual motion.* 

• Memoires de 1* Academic Royale des Sciences. Paris, 1730, 4to. 
Vol. 10, page 605. [See Appendix D.] 


The Paris Academy of Sciences received numerous com- 
munications on Perpetual Motion, but in their "Comptes 
Rendus Hebdomadaries des Seances," in conformity with a 
regulation of long standing, they only name the authors and 
the matter of ttieir papers when upon this subject, as— 

Vol. 4, 1837. — A Letter from M. Pascal, on perpetual 

Vol. 6, 1838. — ^M. Jennisson addressed a presumed solu- 
tion of the problem of perpetual motion, offered by M. 

Vol. 13, 1841. — M. Fubiet read a paper on perpetual 
motion, its object being to prove, by the most popular 
manner, its impossibility. 

Vol. 14, 1841. — ^A communication received from M. 
Verger on perpetual motion. 

Vol. 29, 1849. — M. le Ministre de I'lnstruction Publique 
transmits a note and paper addressed to him by M. le Prefet 
des Hautes-Pyrenees, in which the author, M. Dulot, 
describes a piece of mechanism by means of which he believes 
he obtains perpetual motion. 

Vol. 38, 1854. — M. Jauffbet announces himself as a can- 
didate for the prize given for the improvement of navigation ; 
he offers a propeller which he believes realizes perpetual 

M. Theod. Sylvestre considers he has discovered per- 
petual motion. 

M. Badannel begs the grant of a commission to examine 
a piece of mechanism he has invented) to give continued 
rotation and keep itself going. 

The Academy, according to a regulation of ancient stand- 
ing, cannot grant a commission to examine into papers rela- 
tive to perpetual motion. 

M. EuG. Romey announces his invention for showing the 
movements of the earth, acting also as a clock. 

Vol. 39, 1854. — M. Parceint presents a pajier and draw- 
ing of a propeller having a universal and continuous move- 

The Academy, as before, decline investigating this matter. 

Vol. 40, 1855. — ^M. Aime Lecoq addresses a paper on 
perpetual motion to the Ministre du Commerce, &c., who 

104 PERPETUUM mobile; 

sends it to the Academy, and they refuse to grant a commis- 
sion for the examination of communications relative to this 
subject, which they consider unattainable. 

M. HuHN, of Prussia, announces having invented a system 
of aerial navigation, composed of a series of fanners, shaped 
like a bird's body, and the whole attached like a railway train. 
They are propelled by perpetual motion machinery. 

As before stated, the Academy refuse accepting this and 
like offers. 

Another note is addressed by M. Rieffeb on perpetual 

Vol. 41, 1855. — M. Castagne addresses a letter relative 
to the squaring of the circle, and also on perpetual motion. 

The Academy, as before, decline his offers, and state they 
consider all commucications on these two subjects null and 

M. MuYTON writes a letter relative to perpetual motion. 

The Academy, as before stated, decline to take the subject 
into consideration. 

Vol. 42, 1856. — M. Blanc het announces his intention of 
submitting to the judgment of the Academy a paper in which 
he considers he has resolved the question of perpetual motion. 

The Academy, as in like cases, refuse any examination by 
a commission. 

Vol. 43, 1856. — The Academy have received two notes on 
perpetual motion — one by M. Petrement, and the other by 
M. Grusset — which they refuse, on their former-named 

Vol. 47, 1858. — A paper presented by M. le Ministre de 
rinstruction Publique, enclosing two notes — one descriptive 
of an astronomical apparatus, and the other a piece of 
mechanism — showing perpetual motion. Both by M. Vitelli, 
a Neapolitan. 

The Academy receive the first of these notes, but the 
second they reject. 

M. Marc HAND sends a note on perpetual motion, which is 
refused, on the ground of their before-named decision.* 

* Comptes Rendus H6bdomadaries des Seances, de TAcad^mie des 
Sciences. Paris, 4to. 


In an abridgment of the Memoirs of the Royal Academy 
of Sciences at Paris, for 1700, an accoimt is given of — 

A false report of the Perpetual Motion being discovered, and the 
impossibility of it demonstrated. 

There was in this year a report spread that the perpetual 
motion was found. It was seen in a place where the diffi- 
culty of the thing was not well known, where the invention 
was not examined as it would have been in an academy, 
where an air of science succeeds sometimes, and the air of 
confidence almost always. M. Sauveur explained the inven- 
tion to the academy, who were very much surprised at it. A 
little while after the noise that this discovery made, the per- 
petual motion disappeared with its author. On this occasion, 
M. Parent proved the impossibility of it by this single reason, 
that all the parts of a machine have a common centre of 
gravity ; that while they turn roimd an axis or fixed point, 
whichever it be, this common centre of gravity finds itself 
necessarily in one situation, where it is lower than in any 
other, and that presently all must stop. For, since there is 
a point where the force, which many bodies have to descend, 
is entirely re-imited, as soon as this point cannot descend any 
more, all these bodies must remain fixed. M. Parent deter- 
mined in general that there must inevitably be this point of 
rest for all the machines possible.* 

• The Philosophical History and Memoirs of the Royal Academy of 
Paris ; or, an Abridgment of all the Papers relating to Natural Phi- 
losophy. Translated and abridged by J. Martyn, F.R.S., and E. Cham- 
bers, F.R.S. 5 vols , 8vo. 1742. Vol. 1, p. 203. 

106 PEBPETUUM mobile; 



We here offer the opinions of Martin, 1747; Maclaurin, 
1748; Rutherford, 1748; Hooper, 1783; Emerson, 1794; 
Nicholson, 1800 ; Young, 1807 ; Ghregory, 1815 ; Partmgton, 
1828 ; Amott, 1828 ; — all authors easily accessible, and some 
or all of whom should be consulted before expending time or 
money on schemes which it is abundantly evident are con- 
stantly and shamefully terminating in disappointed hopes. 

In his Lectures on Mechanics, Martin takes occasion to 
illustrate the impossibility of effecting Perpetual Motion, 
observing that — 

A lever is any inflexible line, rod, or beam, moveable about 
or upon a fix*d point (called the prop or fulcrum), upon one 
end of which is the weight to be raised ; at the other end is 
the power applied to rai^^e it, as the hand, &c. Since (as we 
have before proved) the momentums of the weight and power 
are as the quantities of matter in each multiplied by their 
respective celerities, and the celerities are as the distances 
from the centre of motion, and also as the spaces pass'd 
through in a perpendicular direction in the same time, it must 
follow that there will be an equilibrium between the weight 
and power when they are to each other reciprocally as the 
distances from the centre, or as the celerities of the motions, 
or as the perpendicular ascent or descent in the same time ; 
and this universally in all mechanical powers whatsoever, 
which is therefore the fundamental principle of all mechanics. 

(XXXVII.) 1. The nature of this proposition being not 


understood by smatterers in mechanics, gave occasion to 
imagine the possibility of a perpetual motion from one part 
of it, which they did not see was utterly impossible from 
another part of it. 

2. That part which seem'd to promise the possibility thereof 
was this, viz., that the momenta of equal bodies were as their 
distances from the centre of motion. Hence, say the Per- 
petual Motion men, if a wheel were constructed of the form 
of that in the figure A B C D, 
with circular cells going from the 
inner part E F G H to the outer, 
containing equal balls C D E F ; 
then upon turning the wheel they 
must move towards the centre N 
on one part, as the ball E ; and 
from it on the opposite part, as 
the ball C ; and by this means the 
ball C will have a greater momen- 
tum than the ball F, and so will 
determine the wheel to move round ; 
and since this must be the case of all the balls E and C that 
come into the situation E C, the wheel must necessarily move 
continually, because it will bring two balls into that situation. 

3. 'Tis true, where there are but two balls E and C, the ball 
C would by this contrivance move the wheel one quarter round, 
viz., while it descended from C to D, and by this means would 
raise the ball E to F, and there they will abide in the situa- 
tion D F. But, say the men of this persuasion, two other 
balls succeeding to the places E and C will keep the wheel 
moving. Yes, so they would, if the balls at D and E could 
be taken away the moment they come into that posit on, — not 
else ; for the balls C and E, in order to move the wheel, must 
move the balls D and F, which have equal momenta (as 
being the same distance each from the centre as are the other 
two respectively), which is absurd by the general proposition. 

4. The absurdity of a perpetual motion will still farther 
appear, if we consider that the momenta of bodies are always 
proportional to the perpendicular descent or ascent to or from 
the centre of the earth. Since, therefore, in the wheel the 
bodies are all equal by supposition, and the perpendicul 
spaces through which they descend and ascend, above and 
below the horizontal line or diameter A C, are equal, it 

108 PERPETUUM mobile; 

follows that an equilibrium must ensue. Thus, so far is this 
wheel from producing a perpetual motion, that it admits of 
none at all.* 

Maclaurin, to the same purpose, treating of the Laws of 
Motion, and their general Corollaries, says : — 

1. The first law of motion is, " That a body always perse- 
veres in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a right line, 
till by some external influence it be made to change its state." 
That a body of itself perseveres in its state of rest, is matter 
of most common and general observation, and is what suggests 
to us the passive nature of body; but that it likewise, of 
itself, perseveres in its state of motion as well as of rest, is 
not altogether so obvious, and was not imder stood for some 
time by philosophers themselves, when they demanded the 
cause of the continuation of motion. It is easy, however, to 
see that this last is as general and constant a law of nature 
as the first. Any motions we produce here on the earth soon 
languish, and at length vanish ; whence it is a vulgar notion 
that, in general, motion diminishes and tends always toward 
rest. But this is owing to the various resistances which 
bodies here meet with in their motion, especially from fric- 
tion, or their rubbing upon other bodies in their progress, by 
which their motion is chiefly consumed. For when, by any 
contrivance, this friction is much diminished, we always find 
that the motion continues for a long time. Thus, when the 
friction of the axis is lessened by friction wheels applied to 
it and turning round with it, the great wheel will sometimes 
continue to revolve for half an hour ; and when a brass topp 
moves on a very small pivot on a glass plane, it will continue 
in motion very smoothly for a great number of minutes. A 
pendulum, suspended in an advantageous manner, will vibrate 
for a great while, notwithstanding the resistance of the air. 
Upon the whole, it appears that if the friction and other 
' resistances could be taken quite away, the motions would be 

• Philosophia Britannica; or, a New and Comprehensive System of 
the Newtonian Philosophy. By B. Martin. 2 vols. 1747. 8vo. (Vol. 1. 
Third Lecture on Mechanics. Pp. 106-8.) N.B.— Under "Perpetual 
iMovemeut,*' the ahove is copied literally into ** A New and Complete 
Dictionan' of Arts and Sciences. By a Society of Gentlemen." 4 vols. 
1754. 4to. 


perpetual. But what sets this in the clearest light is, that a 
hody placed on the deck or in the cahin of a ship continues 
there at rest while the motion of the ship remains uniform 
and steady ; and the same holds of a hody that is carried 
along in any space that has itself an uniform motion in a 
right line. For if a hody in motion tended to rest, that 
which is in the cabin of a ship ought to fall back towards the 
stem ; which would appear as surprising, when the motion 
of a ship is uniform and steady, as if the body should of 
itself move towards the stem when the ship is at rest. It is 
for this reason that the uniform motion of the earth upon its 
axis has no effect on the motion of bodies at the surface ; 
that the motion of a ship carried away with a current is 
insensible to those in the ship, unless they have an oppor- 
tunity to discover it by objects which they know to be fixed, 
as the shores and the bottom of the sea, or by astronomical 
observations ; and that the motions of the planets and comets, 
in the free celestial spaces, require no new impulses to per- 
petuate them.* 

[He then proceeds to consider the other laws of motion.] 

And of the Mechanical Powers, he says : — 

30. The mechanical powers, according to their different 
structure, serve for different purposes ; and it is the business 
of the skilful mechanic to chuse them, or combine them, in the 
manner that may be best adapted to produce the effect required, 
by the power which he is possessed of, and at the least expence. 
The lever can be employed to raise weights a little way only, 
unless the engine itself be moved, as, for example, to raise 
stones out of their beds in quarries. But the axis and wheel 
may serve for raising weights from the greatest depths. The 
puUies being easily portable aboard ships, are therefore much 
employed in them. The wedge is excellent for separating 
the parts of bodies, and the screw for compressing or squeezing 
them together; and its great friction is even sometimes 
of use to preserve the effect already produced by it. The 
strength of the engine, and of its parts, must be proportioned 
to the effects which are to be produced by it. As we find 

that, when the centre of motion is placed between the power 


• An Account of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophical Discoveries, in 
four books By Colin Maclauria, A.M. Third editicn, 1775, 8vo. 
Page 118, chap. 2, book 2. 

110 PEiirETUUM mobile; 

and tlie weight, it must sustain the sum of their efforts, a 
small balance ought not to be employed for weighing great 
weights, for these disorder its structure, and render it unfit 
for serving that purpose with accuracy; neither are great 
engines proper for producing small effects : the detail of which 
things must be left to the skilful and experienced mechanic. 

31. But besides the raising of weights and overcoming 
resistances, in mechanics we have often other objects in view. 
To make a regular movement, that may serve to measure the 
time as exactly as possible, is one of the most valuable 
problems in this science, and has been most successfully 
effected hitherto by adapting pendulums to clocks, tho' 
many ingenious contrivances have been invented to correct 
the irregularities of those movements that go by springs. 
Some have endeavoured to find a perpetual movement, but 
without success ; and there is groimd to think, from the 
principles of mechanics, that such a movement is impossible. 
In many cases, when bodies act upon each other, there is a 
gain of absolute motion; but this gain is always equal in 
opposite directions, and the quantity of direct motion is never 
increased. To make a perpetual movement, it appears 
necessary that a certain system of bodies, of a determined 
number and quantity, should move in a certain space for ever, 
and in a certain way and manner ; and for this there must be 
a series of actions returning in a circle, to make the move- 
ment continual, so that any action by which the absolute 
quantity of force is ijicreased, of which there are several 
sorts, must have its corresponding counter-action, by which 
that gain of force is destroyed, and the quantity of force 
restored to its first state. Thus, by these actions, there will 
never be any gain of direct force, to overcome the friction and 
the resistance of the medium. But every motion will be 
abated, by these resistances, of its just quantity ; and the 
motions of all must at length languish and cease. 

32. To illustrate this, it is allowed that by the resolution 
Q of force there is a gain or in- 
crease of the absolute quantity of 
force ; as the two forces A B and 
A D (Fig. 2) taken together, 
exceed the force A C which is 
resolved into them. But you 

(Fig. 2 .tab. 1.) cannot proceed resolving motion 


til infinitum, by any machine whatsoever ; but those you have 
resolved must be again compounded, in order to make a con- 
tinual movement, and the gain obtained by the resolution will 
be lost again by the composition. In like manner, if you 
suppose A and B (Fig. 42) to be perfectly elastic, and that 
the lesser body A strikes B quiescent, there will be an 
increase of the absolute quantity of 
ibrce, because A will be reflected ; 
but if you suppose them both to 
turn round any centre C, after the 
stroke, so as to meet again in a 
and b, this increase of force will be 
lost, and their motion will be re- 
duced to its first quantity. Such a 
gain, therefore, of force as must be 
afterwards lost in the action of the 
bodies can never produce a per- 
petual movement. There are various 
ways, besides these, by which abso- ^^^3' *^» ^"°* ^'^ 

lute force may be gained ; but since there is always an equal 
gain in opposite directions, and no increase obtained in the 
same direction, in the circle of actions necessary to make a 
perpetual movement, this gain must be presently lost, and 
will not serve for the necessary expence of force employed in 
overcoming friction and the resistance of the mediimi. 

33. We are to observe, therefore, that tho* it could be 
shewn that in an infinite number of bodies, or in an 
infinite machine, there could be a gain of force for 
ever, and a motion continued to infinity, it does not 
therefore follow that a perpetual movement can be made. 
That which was proposed by Mr. Leibnitz, in August, 1690, 
in the Leipsic acts, as a consequence of the common estima- 
tion of the forces of bodies in motion, is of this kind, and, for 
this and other reasons, ought to be rejected. It is, however, 
necessary to add that, though on many accounts it appears 
preferable to measure the forces as well as motions of bodies 
by their velocities, and not by the squares of their velocities ; 
yet, in order to produce a greater velocit^^ in a body, the 
power or cause that is to generate it must be greater in a 
higher proportion than that velocity, because the action of 
the power upon the body depends upon their relative motion 
only ; so that the whole action of the power is not employed 


PERPETUUM mobile; 

in producing motion in the body, but a considerable part of 
it in sustaining the power, so as to enable it to act upon the 
body and keep up with it. Thus the whole action of the wind 
is not employed in accelerating the motion of the ship, but 
only the excess of its velocity above that of the sail on which 
it acts, both being reduced to the same direction. When 
motion is produced in a body by springs, it is the last spring 
only which acts upon the body by contact, and the rest serve 
only to sustain it in its action ; and hence a greater nimiber 
of springs is requisite to produce a greater velocity in a given 
body than in proportion to that velocity. A double power, 
like that of gravity, will produce a double motion in the 
same time ; and a double motion in an elastic body 
may produce a double motion in another of the same 
kind. But two equal successive impulses, acting on the 
same body, will not produce a motion in it double of 
what would be generated by the first impulse, because the 
second impulse has necessarily a less effect upon the body, 
which is already in motion, than the first impulse which acted 
upon it while at rest. In like manner, if there is a third and 
fourth impulse, the third will have less effect than the second, 
and the fourth less than the third. From this it appears what 
answer we are to make to a specious argument that is adduced 

{Fig. 43, tab. 3.) 



». A\ ,* 

V.--' D 



V "■■* 

to show the possibility of a perpetual motion. Let the height 
A B (Fig. 4i) be divided into four equal parts A B, C D, 



D E, E B — suppose the body A to acquire by the descent 
A C, a velocity as 1, and this motion by any contrivance to 
be transmitted to an equal body B ; then let the body A, by 
an equal descent C D, acquire another motion as 1, to be 
transmitted likewise to the same body B, which in this manner 
is supposed to acquire a motion as 2, that is sufficient to carry 
it upwards from B to A ; and because there yet remain the 
motions which A acquires by the descents D E and E B, that 
may be sufficient to keep an engine in motion, while B and A 
ascend and descend by turns, it is hence concluded that a 
sufficient gain of force may be obtained in this manner, so as 
to produce a perpetual movement. But it appears, from 
what has been shewn, that a motion as 2 cannot be produced 
in B by the two successive impulses transmitted from A, each 
of which is as 1. 

Some authors have proposed projects for producing a per- 
petual movement, with a design to refute them ; but, by 
mistaking the proper answer, have rather confirmed the 
unskilful in their groundless expectations. An instance of 
this we have in Dr. Wilkins's " Mathematical Magick," 
book 2, chap. 13. A loadstone at A (Fig. 44) is supposed 
to have a sufficient force to bring up a heavy body along the 
plane F A, from F to B ; -^ 

whence the body is supposed ^kv (^^9* **i ^"°« 3-) 

to descend by its gravity, along 
the curve B E F, continually. 
But supposing B Z E to be 
the surface upon which, if a 
body was placed, the attrac- 
tion of the loadstone and the 
gravity of the body would 
balance each other, this sur- 
face shall meet B E F at some 

point E between A and F, and the body must stop in descend- 
ing along A E F at the point E.* 

* An Account of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophical Discoveries, in 
four hoolss. By Colin Maclaurin, M.A. Published from the author's 
MS. papers, by Patrick Murdoch, M.A and F.R.S. Third edition, 8vo. 
1776. Book 2, chap. 3, p. 187. N.B.— First edition, 4to., printed 1748. 

The foregoing article may be found copied into "A New and Complete 
Dictionary of Arts and Sciences. By a Society of Gentlemen." 4 vols. 
4to. 1764. 

114 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

Dr. Rutherford, in allusion to Perpetual Motion, says : — 

98. The friction of the parts of a machine against each 
other will in time destroy any motion that has been communi- 
cated to it. 

Amongst the other mutual actions of bodies upon each 
other, we reckon friction. No machine can have the surface 
of its parts made exactly smooth by polishing, though their 
roughness may be made too small for our eyes to discover it. 
And as a body by striking directly upon another, that is either 
at rest or in motion, will lose velocity, so, as the parts of a 
machine rub against each other, when the prominence of one 
part, though ever so small, strikes upon the prominence of 
another part, the motion of the parts will by this means be 
diminished, and by frequent strokes of the same sort will in 
time be entirely destroyed. 

From hence it follows that no machine can be so contrived 
as to have a perpetual motion, or always to preserve the 
motion once impressed upon it ; for the motion commimicated 
will by the friction of the machine be constantly decreasing, 
and must end at last. 

To prevent this, in all the contrivances for a perpetual 
motion the usual attempt has been to find out a way of re- 
pairing the motion which is lost by friction ; and as bodies 
move themselves by the force of gravity, and as motion is 
likewise generated by the spring of such bodies as are 
elastic, the way of repairing the motion as it decays by fric- 
tion must be by the application of one or other of these two 
properties of matter. The motion of some clocks is kept up 
by the force of gravity ; but then this motion is not a per- 
petual one, for the clock stops as soon as the weights are 
down. Other clocks are kept in motion by elastic springs ; 
but this motion ceases likewise, when the spring, by having 
expanded itself, is grown too weak to repair it any longer. 
And indeed, neither of these properties can be so applied as 
to make a perpetual motion. This I will endeavour to shew, 
from one or two of the principal contrivances in the two 
following propositions : — 

99. The force of gravity cannot produce a perpetual 

The general reason for this has been already given ; for, 
since gravity produces motion in bodies only whilst they can 



descend, the motion of a machine, which is lost by the fric- 
tion of its parts, can be repaired by a weight no longer than 
till the weight is down, or is come to the ground, and is pre- 
vented by it from descending any longer. 

In order to remove this difficulty, machines have been con- 
trived with more weights than one, of which some are to be 
constantly ascending whilst the others are descending. Where 
we may observe that the descending weights are applyed to 
two purposes ; they are to repair the motion in the machine, 
and likewise to raise the other weights which were down as 
low as they could go ; and these weights, when they are 
raised, are to descend again, and in their turn to answer the 
same purpose. For this end, some one or more of the 
mechanical powers is made use of, by the assistance of which 
the descendmg weights may be made to move always with a 
greater velocity than the ascending ones ; and then, if the 
quantities of matter in the weights be equal, their moments 
will be as their velocities, and consequently the descending 
weights may by this means have a moment given them so 
much greater than the ascending ones have as to be sufficient 
to answer the two purposes already mentioned. 

It would be endless to examine all the inventions of this 
sort. The principle upon which they depend is applyed in 
the neatest manner in the wheel described by Desaguliers ; 
and by examining the principle in this one instance, we shall 
see the fallacy of it, and how little hopes of success there is 
in any other application of it. The wheel (Fig. 1, plate 4) 
has two rims or circumferences, 
"DeABajidrhi/. The space 
between the two rims is divided 
into cells by the spokes q A, 

/ U pjy^ A «, &c., which are 
bent in such a manner as to 

^aiise weights placed loose in 

^ilie cells to descend on the side 

A « ^ B from A to B, which is 
the lowest point, on the outer 
rim of the wheel, and to ascend 
again from B on the other side 
of the wheel B D, in the line 
B « m /? r, which comes nearer 
the centre C and touches the inner rim. Thus the weights 



on the descending side of the wheel being farther from the 
centre of motion than those on the ascending side, it is 
imagined that the moment of the former will always be 
greater than the moment of the latter. The weight A, in 
particular, descends to B in the arc A « ^ B, which is a 
quarter of a circle ; but it rises from B to D in the curve 
B w «i jt? r, which is less than a quarter of a circle. And, 
since the velocity is as the space described in a given time, 
the velocity and consequently the moment of A when it 
descends is greater than its moment when it ascends. This 
will be the case of every weight in its turn ; therefore, the 
descending weights will always have a greater moment than 
the ascending ones. 

The fallacy is this : — The velocity with which the weight A 
descends to B is estimated by the line A s tB, whereas the 
velocity of all bodies in motion is to be estimated in the line 
of their direction, by the second law of motion. For it is 
only in the line of direction that any force acts so as to com- 
municate motion to a body ; and it is in the same line only 
that the body in motion acts, when it communicates motion 
and is itself considered as a moving force. From hence it 
follows, that the velocity with which a weight descends, if 
the weight is considered as a moving force, must be estimated 
in the line of its direction, that is, in a line drawn from its 
centre of gravity to the centre of the earth ; or, the velocity 
of a weight is proportional to the approach of it in any given 
time to Sie earth's centre. In like manner, the velocity with 
which the weight ascends is to be estimated in the line of its 
direction, and in any given time it is as the distance to which 
it is raised from the earth's centre in that time. From hence 
it appears that, though the weight A descends to B in the 
curve A 8 tB, yet the velocity with which it descends being 
as its approach to the earth's centre, is as A G = C B ; and 
though the same weight ascends in the lesser curve B n m p r, 
yet the velocity with which it ascends being as the distance 
to which it is raised from the earth's centre in that time, is as 
Er = CB = AG. Therefore, the descending and ascend- 
ing velocities are equal, and consequently the moment of the 
descending weights will be no greater than the ascending 

I do not know whether this will be made more intelligible 
by distinguishing between the weight's velocity whilst it 


descends and the velocity with, which it descends. This may 
appear to the reader too nice a distinction ; but I hope he 
will understand my meaning, if he observes that whUst A 
descends it does not move directly downwards in the line A G, 
but moves partly downwards and partly in a horizontal direc- 
tion, and by both these motions together is carried to B. 
Since, therefore, whilst it descends it is likewise carryed hori- 
zontally, I think it is evident that it does not descend with its 
whole velocity ; therefore, its velocity whilst it descends is 
different from the velocity with which it descends, as different 
as the whole is from its part. Or otherwise, whilst A de- 
scends to B in the line A « ^ B, we may consider its motion 
as resolved into the two sides of a parallelogram, A G and 
A C = G B ; where the velocity with which it descends is 
A G, and the other part of its velocity A C or G B carries it 
horizontally. In like manner we may distinguish between 
the velocity which the weight has whilst it ascends and the 
velocity with which it ascends ; for if, as before, the weight 
ascends in the curve B n mp r, we may consider its motion 
as resolved into the two sides of a parallelogram, B C = E r 
and B E ; where the velocity with which it ascends is E r, 
and the other part of its velocity B E carries it horizontally. 
Now, the descending velocity A G is equal to the ascending 
velocity E r; and, therefore, the moment with which the 
weight descends will be equal to the moment with which it 
ascends. The horizontal velocity G B of the descending 
• weight is greater, indeed, than the horizontal velocity B E of 
the ascending one. But I suppose it is unnecessary to prove 
that this cannot possibly contribute anything towards turning 
the wheel, or towards making the moment on the descending 
side greater than the moment on the ascending side ; for I 
imagine the reader will easily see that a motion in the direc- 
tion G B E or A C r will not contribute in the least towards 
making the point A descend, or towards turning the line 
A C D round upon the centre of motion. 

100. The force of elasticity cannot produce a perpetual 

Elastic springs, as has been observed already, by ex- 
panding themselves grow weak ; and, when they are quite 
expanded, become entirely unable to produce any motion at 
all. But in proposition 83 it was shown that if an elastic 
ball A strikes upon another B, which is greater than itself, 

118 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

the moment of B after the stroke will be greater than that of 
A was before it. In like manner, if B was to strike upon C, 
another elastic body greater than itself, the motion might 
still be increased. And thus, by placing more elastic bodies 
in the row, of which each should be greater than the last 
before it, the motion might be increased in what proportion 
we pleased. Now, why might not motion produced in this 
manner be applied to repair what is lost in a machine by the 
friction of its parts, and to make the motion of the machine a 
perpetual one? I intended to supply the reader with an 
answer to this question when I desired him to remember in 
the instance of two bodies, in proposition 83, that though 
there is motion produced if we consider the greater body 
alone, yet if both bodies are taken together there is no motion 
produced in the same direction ; but the moment in the same 
direction is exactly the saine after the stroke that it was 
before it. This woidd be the case were there ever so many 
bodies. But a machine can o^y be moved by moving forces 
in the same direction; for equal moving forces in contrary 
directions would destroy esLph. other and produce no effect on 
the machine, and the effect-^produced by unequal ones in con- 
trary directions will be as their difference. Since, therefore, 
the moving force, by which the motion of the machine should 
be repaired, is the moment of these elastic bodies, and since 
their moment in the same direction is the same after the 
strolie th|t it was before ; it follows, that no such moment is 
producedby the stroke as can keep the motion of the machine 
and make it perpetual. For instance, suppose the machine 
consists of four wheels; call them c, d^ e, andy. Let c be 
the first mover, and let / be the last. Now, if c begins to 
move with 8 degrees of moment, and by the friction 2 degrees 
are lost when the motion comes to the wheel /, then / can 
return only 6 degrees of motion on c, the first mover. And 
thus the motion, as it decays in every round, will at last be 
entirely lost, imless some method could be found for repairing 
it. Suppose, therefore, that there were two elastic balls A 
and B, and that A is to B as 2 to 4 ; then, by proposition 83, 
if A strikes B with a moment 6, B will gain by the stroke a 
moment 8. ||fp,if y, the fe^ wheel which has only the 
moment 6, wa^ to strike updir5v and A to strike upon B, and 
B Xo strike upon the first wheel c, then this first mover would 
iave the same motion 8 communicated to it, with which it 


began to move. And as the two elastic bodies would always 
repair the 2 degrees of motion that are lost by friction in 
conveying the motion from c to/, why might not this con- 
trivance be so applyed as to make the machine a perpetual 
motion? I answer, because, though B strikes c with 8 
degrees of motion, yet A will at the same time be reflected 
with 2 degrees against /, and striking /, the last mover, by 
reflection, will stop the machine with a force 2, whilst B is 
moving it with a force 8. Therefore, by the action of both 
bodies together, of B impelling c with the moment 8, and 
of A reflected back upon f with the moment 2, the machine 
will be moved only with the difference, or 8 — 2 = 6. So that 
if c began to move at first with the moment 8, and this 
moment by being carried round through d and e to /was re- 
duced to 6, the two elastic balls A and B will not repair the 
moment lost ; but the machine will have only 6 degrees of 
moment, notwithstanding the seeming increase of motion by 
A's striking upon B.* 

Dr. Hooper describes "A Clock to go perpetually by the 
influence of the Celestial Bodies," and very properly dis- 
criminates the difference between such action and a self- 
motive power. He says : — 

The construction of the movements in this clock is the 
same with those in common use ; it differs from those only in 
its situation and the manner in which it is wound up. 

This clock is to be placed near a wall, by or against which 
the tide constantly flows. To each of the barrels round 
which the string that carries the weight is wound, there must 
hang a bucket, and into that, when the tide rises to a certain 
height, the water runs, by means of a pipe fixed in the wall. 
The bucket then overbalancing the weight, descends, and 
winds up the clock ; but when it comes to a certain deptlii, it 
is taken by a catch fixed in the wall, which by turning it 
over discharges the water ; the weights of the clock ti^en 
descend in the usual manner, and the buckets are drawn up. 

Now, as this clock is kept in motion by the tide, and as 

♦ A System of Natural Philosophy. By T. Rutherford, D.D., F.R.S. 
9, vols. 4to., 1748. Vol. 1, pp. 88-92. 

120 PEBPETUTJM mobile; 

the tide proceeds from the influence of the sun and moon, it 
necessarily follows that the motion of the clock proceeds 
from the same cause, and that as long as the parts of the 
machine remain, motion will be perpetual. 

This, according to the common acceptation of the term, is 
certainly a perpetual motion, and so is every mill that is 
driven by a constcnt stream ; but that is not the sense in 
which the term was used by the advocates for a perpetual 
motion in the last century. They meant a machine which, 
being once put in motion, should, by its peculiar construction, 
move perpetually without any fresh force impressed. This 
they attempted by various means : as the attraction of a load- 
stone, the descent of heavy bodies, the difference of the 
momentum in revolving weights, &c., all of which, though 
ingenious enough, discover a want of due attention to the 
principles of mechanics. Besides, if a perpetual movement 
could be effected by either of those means, it would be of 
very little or no use : for the unavoidable wear of the several 
parts of the machine, arising from the incessant friction, 
must necessarily destroy that equality of motion which alone 
could render its perpetuity of any consequence.* 

Emerson, in Prop. CXVIII., treating how " To determine 
the friction and other irregularities in mechanical engines," 

,;^ys:— • 

; li;; As to the mechanic powers. The single leaver makes 
np^i^sistance by friction. But if, by the motion of the leaver 
in lifting, the fulcrum or support be changed further from the 
weight, the power will be decreased thereby. 

7. If any wheel of a machine running upon an axis, the 
friction on the axis is as the weight upon it, the diameter of 
the axis, and the angular velocity. This sort of friction is 
but smsdl. 

8. In the pulley, if p q he two weights, and q the greater, 

and if W= r^, then W is the weight upon the axis,i^f the 
single pulley. And it is not increased by the acceleration of 
the weight q, but remains always the same. 

* Rational Recreations. By W, Hooper, M.D. 4 vols. 8vo. 1783. 
Vo'. 1, p. 187; recieaticn 65. 


The friction of the pulley is very considerable when the 
sheaves rub against the blocks, and by the wearing of the 
holes and axles. 

The friction on the axis of the pulley is as the weight W, 
its angular velocity the diameter of the axis directly and the 
diameter of the pulley inversely. A power of lOOlbs. with 
the addition of 501bs. will but draw up SOOlbs. with a tackle 
of 5. 

And 151bs. over a single pulley will draw up only 141bs. 

9. In the screw there is a great deal of friction. Those 
with sharp threads have more friction than those with square 
threads, and endless screws have more than either. Screws 
with a square thread raise a weight with more ease than 
those with a sharp thread. 

In the common screw the friction is so great, that it will 
sustain the weight in a position given when the power is 
taken off. And, therefore, the friction is at least equal to 
the power. From whence it will follow, that in the screw 
the power must be to the weight or resistance, at least as 
twice the perpendicular height of a thread to the circumfer- 
ence described by gne revolution of the power, if it be able 
to raise the weight, or only sustain it. This friction of the 
screw is of great use, as it serves to keep the weight in any 
given position. 

10. In the wedge the friction is at least equal to the power, 
as it retains any position it is driven into. Therefore, in the 
wedge the power must be to the weight at least as twice the 
base to the height, to overcome any resistance. 

11. To find the friction of any engine, begin at the power, 
and consider the velocity and the weight at the first rubbing 
part, and estimate its quantity of friction by some of the 
foregoing articles ; then proceed to the next rubbing part, and 
do the same for it; and so on through the whole. 

And note, something more is to be allowed for increase of 
friction by every new addition to the power. 

Cor. — Hence will appear the difficulty, or, rather, im- 
possibility of a perpetual motion, or such a motion as is to 
continue the same for ever, or at least as long as the mate- 
rials will last, that compose moving machines. 

For such a motion as this ought continually to return undi- 
minished, notwithstanding any resistance it meets with, which 
is impossible. For, although any body once put into motion, 

122 PEB?ETUUM mobile; 

and moving freely without any resistance, or any external 
retarding force acting upon it, would for ever retain, that 
motion, yet, in fact, we are certain that no body or machine 
can move at all without some degree of friction and 
resistance ; and, therefore, it must follow that, from the 
resistance of the medium, and the friction of the parts of the 
machine upon one another, its motion will gradually decay, 
till, at last, all the motion is destroyed, and the machine is at 
rest. Nor can this be otherwise, except some new active 
force, equal to all its resistance, adds a new motion to it. 
But that cannot be from the body or machine itself ; for then 
the body would move itself, or be the cause of its own 
motion, which is absurd,* 

Among the numerous commimications made by William 
Nicholson to the journal he conducted, and which bears his 
name, he contributed the following carefully-written paper — 
" Concerning those Perpetual Motions which are producible 
in Machines by the Rise and Fall of the Barometer or the 
Thermometrical Variations in the Dimensions of Bodies :" — 

In a former communication, I have given an account of 
some of the delusive projects for obtaining a perpetual 
motion from an invariable power.f In that paper, I remarked 
that the flow of rivers, the vicissitudes of tides, the varia- 
tions of winds, the thermometrical expansions of solids and 
fluids, the rise and fall of the mercury in the barometer, the 
hygrometric changes in organised remains, and every other 
of those mutations which never fail to take place around us, 
may be applied as flrst movers to mills, clocks, and other 
engines, and keep them going till worn out. Many instances 
of this kind of perpetual motion are seen in water-nulls and 
other common engines, which are necessarily confined to cer- 
tain local situations. The windmill, though less confined 
with respect to place, is the subject of a much more variable 
power ; other instruments, still less confined with regard to 
^situation and exposure, have been made, which are capable of 

• The Principles of Mechanics. By W. Emerson. 4to. 1794. 
Tourth ed'tion, p. 173. 

t Philosophical Journal, voL 1, p. 375. 


contmuing their motion without ceasing. Such was the 
clock, or perpetual motion, in Cox's Museum, which was 
shewn about twenty years ago in London. My former paper 
was written to shew the value of the perpetual motion, 
strictly so called, which has for the most part been pursued 
by men of little information. In the present memoir, I shall 
endeavour to ascertain that of this second kind of motion, 
which, because more promising, and of nearly the same prac- 
tical value, has been followed at some expense by men of 
higher claims. For this purpose, I shall first describe a few 
schemes, and then investigate the quantity of power they are 
likely to afford. 

Fig. 1, plate 6, is a sketch of the first ipover in a clock 
which formed part of Cox's Museum, which was sold by 
public lottery, about the year 1776^ if my recollection be 
accurate. A represents the surface of the mercury in a baro- 
meter, the glass vessel of which had the form of a bottle or 
chemical mattrass. The diameter of the upper surface of the 
mercury was, I think, about twelve inches. C D represents 
the bason, or receptacle, into which the aperture of A B was 
k»lunged. I suppose, of course, that the lower surface of 
toercury, which was exposed to the pressure of the atmo- 
^here, was nearly the same as the upper, A B, as, in fact, it 
appeared to be. From the intervention of the case, and 
other parts of the apparatus, I could only conjecture the 
manner in which the effect was produced ; but this was after- 
wards explained to me by Mr. Rehe,* who contrived and made 
it. The bason B D is suspended by two chains K L, which 
pass over the pullies or wheels H I, and are attached to the 
frame E F, which last is fixed to the barometer A B. Let 
us now suppose the apparatus to be at liberty, and it will be 
clearly seen, that if the two masses attached to the opposite 
ends of the chains K L be not precisely equal, the heaviest 
will descend, and cause the lightest to rise. The masses 
must, therefore, be brought nearly to this state of equality, 
by the adjustment of weight added to one or both of them. 
In this state, suppose the pressure of the atmosphere to in- 
crease, and the consequence will be, that a portion of the 
mercury, being forced from the vessel C D into A B, will 

* This gentleman is at present one of the Board of Inspection of Naval 
Worksat the Admiralty. June, 1799. 

124 PEKPETUUM mobile; 

render this last heavier, and cause it to descend, while C D 
at the same time rises. And, on the other hand, when, by a 
diminished pressure of the external air, the mercury subsides 
in A B, the vessel C D will preponderate, and A B will rise. 
Now, the frame E F, which is interposed between the baro- 
meter and the pullies I K, is jointed at the corners, and also 
at the places where it is attached to the chain and the baro- 
meter ; and the inner edges of the upright pieces E F are 
formed into teeth, like those of a saw, the slopes of which 
lie in opposite directions, as is shewn in the figure. The 
wheel G, which is placed between these bars, is also toothed 
in the same manner ; and its diameter is such, that when the 
teeth on each side, as, for example, E, are engaged, those on 
the other side, F, may be free ; but it is too large to admit of 
both sides beingjdisengaged at once. The wheel G is pre- 
vented, by a click, from moving in the direction opposite to 
that which may be produced by the action of the bars E and 
F. Hence, the play of the machine is evident. When the 
pressure of the atmosphere diminishes, and the barometer 
rises from its cistern, the side E of the frame will move the 
wheel G through a greater or less space, according to the 
variation ; and when, on the contrary, it falls, the teeth E 
will be drawn out of their bearing, and those of F will be 
thrown into the wheel, and still produce a motion of the same 
kind ; the joints of the frame E F allowing it to change its 
figure enough for this purpose. It is hardly necessary to 
remark that this wheel G, being connected with the clock, 
serves to wind it up, and that the clock is constructed to go 
for a much greater number of days than the barometer has 
ever been known to remain stationary. 

The ingenious mechanic will readily form a notion of many 
other methods of applying the variations of the barometer to 
similar objects. The wheel-barometer of Robert Hook, as 
well as another contrivance, in which the barometer and its 
cistern are placed at the different extremities of an inclined 
lever, may likewise be used for this purpose. 

Several artists have exerted their industry in attempts to 
apply the variations produced by change of temperature in 
bodies as a first mover. If a thermometer be suspended by 
its centre of gravity in such a manner that the tube may lie 
nearly horizontal, the daily variations in the bulk of the mercury 
will cause a preponderance on the one side or the other, 




accordingly as the temperature is higher or lower than it was 
at the original fixing of the centre of suspension. The thermo* 
meter may contain mercury or any other fluid, or it may con- 
sist of air confined by merciiry, as in the manometer. In this 
contrivance, the great and frequent ranges of variation afford 
much promise of utility. The limits of convenient or prac- 
ticable power from change of equilibrium in a fluid thermo- 
meter will hereafter be examined. A much greater force 
seems to offer itself in the power by which the expansion is 
produced ; but the difficulty of forming a piston or other 
apparatus for confining fluids, will probably constitute an in • 
surmountable impediment to this method. 

The solid thermometer does not present the same difficulty. 
Fig. 2 represents a series of expansion-bars, each consisting of 
a plate of brass, soldered to another of steel, and possessing 
the property of bending by change of temperature, according 
to the laws already explained in this work.* If the steel face 
of C A be uppermost, and the end C be fixed to C B, the 
extremity A will rise from B when the temperature is ele- 
vated ; and if the succeeding bars be similarly fixed above 
each other, as in the figure, the whole system will occupy a 
greater length, or elevation, above C B, when heated, than 
when cold. Another more convenient method of disposing 
the bars is shewn in Fig. 3. In this, the bars are fixed toge- 
ther at the middle, with the brass faces turned towards each 
other. Each bar has a slight curvature (much less than is 
here shewn), which will be increased by heat, and by that 
means cause the distance between the middle of two extreme 
bars to be greater than it would be at a lower temperature. 

These causes of action may be applied to machinery by 
various contrivances, some of which serve to increase the 
length of range, but add nothing to the power. This last, 
no doubt, is an object of convenience, according to the effect 
intended to be produced. The only method of adding to the 
power will consist in increasing the number of the bars. Fig. 4 
represents a system for this purpose, which is the simplest 
and most convenient that has occurred to me. A C repre- 
sents the circumference of a barrel, resembling those in 
which the mainsprings of clocks are put, the length and dia- 
meter of which may be varied, according to the power 

* Philosophical Journal, vol. 1. pp. 62, 576. 

128 PERPETXJUM mobile; 

intended to be gained. To this external part is fixed a ratchet- 
wheeL, to receive the click C, which confines its motion to one 
direction. At A is fixed a plate, to receive the action of the 
expansion-pieces. B D is an internal cylinder of the same 
kind, which is also confined, by a ratchet-wheel and click, to 
move only in the same direction as the outer part A C. It is 
not necessary to describe the operative arrangements by 
which these two cylinders are disposed so as to move on the 
same axis, and the ends duly applied, so as to form one box, 
while the interior and exterior parts are allowed to move inde- 
pendent of each other. At B is fixed a plate, by which the 
action of the expansion-pieces is communicated to the inner 
cylinder. A series of bars, similar to those delineated in 
Fig. 3, are disposed in the space between the two cylinders, 
the greatest part of which they occupy, leaving only such an 
interval between A and B as may be sufiicient to allow for 
the motion of the bars. In this interval is placed a spring, 
tending to cause A and B to recede from each other ; and, 
lastly, there are side-pins proceeding from the places of fric- 
tion of every pair of bars, which respectively pass through 
circular grooves in the caps, and prevent the motion of the 
bars from being interrupted or impeded by their touching 
either the inner or the outer cylinders. E represents a wheel, 
which is supposed to be connected, by tooth-work or other- 
wise, with the face of the external cylinder, and may be con- 
sidered as the machinery intended to be moved. Or other- 
wise, if the clicks C and D, with the teeth they act upon, be 
reversed, and the interior cylinder be fixed to the axis itself, 
that axis may be used as the first mover. 

Suppose this apparatus to be put together at a certain tem- 
perature in the day-time, and that in the night the tempera- 
ture becomes colder, in this case, the curvature of all the 
bars will diminish, and the distance between A and B will be 
increased by the action of the intermediate spring ; but as 
the plate A is prevented by the click C from receding, the 
plate B will be pushed forward, and the interior cylinder will 
gather a certain number of its teeth upon the click D. The 
next day, when the temperature again rises?, all the expansion- 
bars will bend, and the space between A and B will be dimi- 
nished ; this, however, cannot happen by the motion of B, 
which is held fast by the click D. The external part will, 
consequently, be now carried forward, and will act upon the 

{Fig, 2.) 


(Fig. 4.) 

{Fiq. 6.) 





apparatus E. A second lowering of the temperature, by 
whatever cause, will occasion the interior part again to ad- 
vance, and, in this manner, the accumulations of force may 
be incessantly reiterated. 

Experience must determine how far the properties of these 
compound bars may be changed in the course of time.* It 
seems probable that the mere changes communicated by the 
atmosphere could scarcely produce any sensible effect ; and 
whether this effect would be detrimental to the general result, 
may also be questioned. Considerations of this nature lead to 
the enquiry, whether our object may not, with equal facility, 
be obtained by the direct push or pull of bars of metal, as in 
the gridiron pendulum, or that of EUicott.f 

If a succession of bars of brass were disposed round a 
cylindrical face of less expansible metal, so as to form an 
helical line from the one end to the other ; or, otherwise, if 
we suppose a brass clock chain, with a right-lined edge, to 
be wrapped round such a cylinder ; or, again, if, instead of 
the cylinder, we suppose the chain to pass over a succession 
of rollers, whether disposed in a cylindrical system or 
according to the form of a pulley, the result will be the 
same ; that is to say, the chain will contract and expand 
about the ten-thousandth part of its length, for every ten 
degrees of Fahrenheit's thermometer. In the way of rough 
estimate, let us, therefore, assume a cylinder of cast-iron, one 
foot in diameter and one foot in length, having a groove 
turned in its surface, like a screw, with twelve turns in the 
inch, for the purpose of lodging a system of friction rollers to 
receive the brass chain, wrapped round it. Such a chain,J 
consisting of 144 turns, would measure 450 feet,§ and would 
contract nearly 0.54 inches for every 10 degrees, or one- 
twentieth of an inch for each degree of change of tem- 
perature ; but as the cylinder itself contracts, the whole effect 
will be somewhat less than half that quantity ; that is to say, 
each degree of the thermometer will be one-fortieth of an 

The philosophical world is aware that hygrometers have 

♦ Philosophical Journal, vol. 1, p. 62. 

t Ibid., pp. 59, 60. 

X And would cost about £25. 

§ For pyromelrical data, see Philosophical Journal, vol. 1, p. 58. 

132 PERPETxruM mobile; 

been made, on this principle, with catgut, hair, whalebone, 
and other materials. It seems probable that the first of these 
would exert considerable force as a first-mover, but it would 
scarcely prove durable ; and, what is still worse, the variations 
of moisture in the atmosphere are little suited to operate upon 
machinery preserved in a case in an apartment. 

If the increase of the space moved through by the expan- 
sion of metals, upon the principle of EUicott's pendulum, 
should be adopted instead of the compound bars in Fig. 4, 
the project of Fig. 6 may be followed. A bar of steel A K 
is fixed beside a bar of brass B I, the joinings I K being 
inflexible ; but those at A B, in the lever A F, being jointed, 
the difference of expansion between the two metals will be 
magnified at F, in the proportion of A F to A B. The lines 
L C G D E represent a second combination of the same kind, 
in which the point G will have a similar and equal motion to 
that of F ; but the bar E L being prolonged to F, so as to 
bear upon the lever E F, the whole of the second combina- 
tion will be pushed forward by the expansion of the first, on 
account of which, the motion of G will, in fact, be double 
that of F ; by the addition of a third combination, the motion 
will be tripled, &c. A sufficient number of these, properly 
placed in the cavity between the two cylinders. Fig. 4, would 
afford the same consequences ; but it may be doubted whether 
any contrivance of this last kind could afford the same power 
in as small a space as that occupied by the compound bars. 

I shall now proceed to form an estimate of the quantities 
of force communicated by these several contrivances. 

The apparatus (Fig. 1, plate 6), or barometrical clock, is 
driven by a force which may be estimated in its annual 
quantity from the sum of the deviations of the barometer 
taken from a meteorological journal, such as that in the 
Philosophical Transactions; together with the quantity of 
mercury so moved, which may be derived from the dimen- 
sions of the surfaces in the tube and basin. From these 
variations, severally, must be taken the quantity of what 
mechanics call lost time, or the ineffectual movement between 
the direct and retrograde actions on the machinery. The 
whole power will be measured by the entire column of varia- 
tion, supposed to descend through half its height ; for this 
will be the case when a perpendicular tube empties itself by 
the descent of any fluid contained in it. I have not taken 


the trouble to collect these elements ; but it may easily be 
imagined that the sum of all the variations during the year 
would amount to no great quantity. I understand, from the 
ingenious constructor of this apparatus, that the accumulated 
power was not sufficient to allow the clock to be maintained 
by a force equal to that which drives a common watch, 
namely, six ounces, with the daily fall of twelve inches. 

In the investigation of the power of expansion, in Fig. 4, 
a variety of curious objects of physical and mathematical 
research offer themselves to our consideration. In a former 
part of this journal,* it has been shewn that the curvature 
assumed by a straight compound bar, having each of its 
parts uniformly thick, will be circular ; whence it follows, 
from the nature of versed sines of small arcs, that the dis- 
tance A B, Fig. 2, will, cceteris paribus^ be as the square of 
C A ; and it should seem as if a considerable advantage 
might be derived from using the whole length of the bar, as 
in that figure (2), instead of the two half-lengths in Fig. 3. 
But it must be considered that the effect of hammer-hardening 
the lower part, and wire-drawing the upper, of the compound 
bar C A, is twice as great at C, Fig. 2, as it is at C in Fig. 3, 
and is shewn in the greater spring or yielding of the parts, 
and that the action at A, in this figure, is doubled at the 
opposite extremity of the bar ; so that, upon the whole, the 
action at A, on account of the short lever A C, Fig. 3, being 
twice as powerful as that at A in Fig. 2, and being exerted 
through the space A B, Fig. 3, of one-fourth part of the 
space A B in Fig. 2, will be half the action at the end of 
Fig. 2. But as both extremities of the bar are made to act 
in Fig. 3, the whole of its action will be precisely equal to 
that in Fig. 2. The combination. Fig. 3, appears, therefore, 
to be preferable on account of its convenient figure only. 

It may also be questioned whether these bars should be 
made extremely thin or the contrary. If they be very thin, 
the effect of the reaction being equivalent to a pull or push 
endways upon the bar, which is greater than the reaction 
itself, in the proportion of the length of the bar to its half 
thickness, it may easily be imagined that the texture and 
cohesion will be most strongly affected ; but, on the contrary, 
if the bar be very thick, the effect from change of tempera- 

♦ Vol. 1, p. 62. 

134 PERPETUUM mobile; 

ture may resolve itself entirely into an action upon the parts 
near the contiguous surfaces, without producing any flexure 
at all. It appears, therefore, that there is a thickness which 
is practically better than any other ; but what this thickness 
may be, remains to be determined by trials. As the quantity 
of motion is inversely as the thickness (Philos. Journal, i., 
576), and the force directly as that thickness, it must follow 
that the quantity of mechanic efiect in all similar bars, 
neither extremely thick nor extremely thin, will be the same 
upon equal changes of temperature. I should give the pre- 
ference to thin bars, not so much reduced as to have any 
perceptible spring. 

If the Fig. 4 be supposed of such dimensions as that the 
circular arc struck through the middle parts of all the bars 
might be three feet in length, and the bars were each six 
inches long in the radial direction, with a thickness nearly 
equal to that of the second experiment related at the last- 
quoted article of our journal, the space moved through by 
each bar, upon an alteration of 146 degrees, would be about 
0.05 inch, or haK a tenth ; but 300 of these bars might with 
ease be contained in the circular space of three feet ; and 
these would produce a motion of fifteen inches by the same 
change of temperature, or one-tenth of an inch for every 
degree of Fahrenheit. In order to determine the force with 
which this change of position would be effected, we are in 
want of some experiments on the expansions of metals. It is 
generally supposed that a rod or wire will contract or dilate 
by change of temperature in the same manner, whether it be 
at perfect liberty to move horizontally, or be made to support 
a weight hung from its extremity, or placed on its upper end. 
This is, in fact, supposed to be the case in the estimates for 
constructing gridiron pendulums ; and if it were strictly true, 
the power of this wheel would be constantly equal to the 
reaction against which it should be exerted. But it would be 
to little purpose to institute a calculation upon data assumed 
at random. I shall therefore only remark that the power of 
this wheel is very considerable, and may be increased almost 
at pleasure, by enlarging the dimensions of the bars in the 
direction parallel to the axis of the cylinder. 

Whatever question there may be with regard to the force 
and durability of this system of bars — neither of which I am 
disposed to doubt — ^there can be scarcely any with regard to 


the spiral chain round the cylinder. The direct expansion 
and contraction of metals is certainly very powerful, and was 
shewn in a striking manner by the Rev. Mr. Jones, in an 
experiment related, if my memory be correct, in George 
Adam's Philosophical Lectures. He hung a very heavy 
weight to the longer end of a lever, the shorter arm of which 
pressed upwards against the longer arm of another lever, and 
the shorter arm of this last was supported by a rod of metal. 
By this mechanical arrangement, it will be understood, 
without difficulty, that a very slight motion of the arm which 
bore upon the metal might be attended with a very con- 
siderable motion of that extremity which supported the 
weight ; and the dimensions were such, that this was in fact 
the case. 

The flame of a candle applied to the bar of metal caused it 
to expand, and carried up the load without difficulty. 

Hygrometric contractions and dilations are known to be 
performed with immense force ; but want of durability in the 
materials, and the difficulty with regard to exposure, which 
has been already mentioned, seem to forbid the practical use 
of this power for the purpose to which our attention is now 

The contrivance. Fig. 5, may be considered as effectual ; 
but the objections which have been made to EUicott's 
pendulum are still more strongly applicable to this, namely, 
that the friction, the wear, and the irregular action of the 
joints, must he hurtful to the general effect.* 

In Nicholson* s Journal, vol. 1, for 1802, page 27, is given 
the " Construction of an hydraulic apparatus, which by means 
of the syphon raises water above its level, and performs its 
alterations without attendance.'* It is the invention of 
"William Close." It has pipes and valves which require 
nice adjustment, it is stated, "to prevent the sudden pressure 
of the atmosphere from forcing the air out of the empty pipes 
with such rapidity as would [and' no doubt did] destroy the 
operation of the syphon." The article is not of sufficient 
interest to extract in extenso. 

♦ A Journal of {Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, and the Arts. By 
WiUiam Nicholson. Vol. 3, pp. 126 and 172. 1800. 4to. 


PEBPSTUUM mobile; 

A New Project for Perpetual Motion, In a Letter from R. B, 
to Mr, Nicholson, 

Sir, — I was mucli gratified, several years ago, by some 
essays with which you obliged your readers upon the perpetual 
motion. In the first volume, p. 375, of your quarto series, I 
find an accoimt of several schemes (necessarily abortive) for 
producing perpetual motions by the action of gravity ; and 
in your third volume I find an accoimt of various methods of 
keeping up the motion of a machine by means of the changes 
which take place in the barometer and thermometer. I have 
ventured to send you the sketch of a project for a perpetual 
motion of the latter kind, which has long remained among 
my memorandums. You will see it is not of the class of 
perpetual motions, properly speaking, but merely the applica- 
tion of some existing intermittent motions in nature to the 
purpose of maintaining the rotation of machinery. 

Fig. 1, plate 12. — A represents the marine barometer of 
Halley, but varied by the addition of a vessel B at the open 
(Fig. 1, pi 12, vol. 9.) 

end, in which the water, or other fluid, exposes a surface 
nearly equal to that in the closed vessel A. These two 


vessels are connected by a long horizontal tube G. It is 
evident that any change, either in the pressure of the external 
air or the elasticity of the internal air, will cause the fluid to 
run along the tube, and add to the weight of A or of B, 
according to circumstances. The heavier vessel will prepon- 
derate, but it will be prevented from descending too far by a 
stop or bearing to which it will arrive. Any change in the 
inclination of G will move the attached lever C D ; by means 
of which, one of the two horizontal racks will be made to 
push round that ratchet-wheel into which its teeth fall, at the 
same time that the other rack will be drawn backwards upon 
its wheel. The opposite action will drive forward the other 
wheel ; and, as both these wheels are fixed on the same axis, 
the system will be driven the same way by every change of 
densi^ or weight in the air that takes place.* 

Dr. Yoimg, in his ninth lecture " On the Motions of Con- 
nected Bodies," remarks : — 

To seek for a source of motion in the construction of a 
machine betrays a gross ignorance of the principles on which 
all machines operate. The only interest that we can take in 
the projects which have been tried for procuring a per- 
petual motion must arise from the opportunity that they afford 
us to observe the weakness of human reason, to see a man 
spending whole years in the pursuit of an object which a week's 
application to sober philosophy might have convinced him 
was imattainable. The most satisfactory confutation of the 
notion of the possibility of a perpetual motion is derived from 
the consideration of the properties of the centre of gravity. 
We have only to examine whether it will begin to descend or 
to ascend when the machine moves, or whether it will remain 
at rest. If it be so placed that it must either remain at rest 
or ascend, it is clear, from the laws of equilibriimi, that no 
motion from gravitation can take place ; if it may descend, it 
must either continue to descend for ever, with a finite velocity, 
which is impossible, or it must first descend and then ascend 
with a vibratory motion, and then the case will be reducible 
to that of a pendulum, where it is obvious that no new motion 
is generated, and that the friction and resistance of the air 

• A Journal of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, and the (Arts. By 
Wm. Nicholson. Vol. 9, p. 212. 18U4. 8vo. 


PBRPETUUM mobile; 

must soon destroy the original motion. One of the most 
co.nmon fallacies, by which the superficial projectors of 
machines for obtaining a perpetual motion have been deluded, 
has arisen from imagining that any number of weights ascend- 
ing by a certain path on one side of the centre of motion and 
descending on the other at a greater distance, must cause a 
constant preponderance on the side of the descent : for this 
purpose, the weights have either been fixed on hinges which 
allow them to fall over at a certain point, so as to become 
more distant from the centre, or made to slide or roll along 
grooves or planes which lead them to a more remote part of 
the wheel, from whence they return as they ascend ; but it 
will appear, on the inspection of such a machine, that although 
some of the weights are more distant from the centre than 
others, yet there is always a proportionally smaller number of 
them on that side on which they have the greatest power, so 
that these circimistances precisely coimterbalance each other. 
(Fig. 78, pi. 6, page 91.) 

(Fig. 78, pi 6.) 

Note on plate 6, page 763, vol. 1 : — 

Fig. 78. — ^A wheel supposed to be capable of producing a 


perpetual motion ; the descending balls acting at a greater 
distance from the centre, but being fewer in number than the 
ascending. In the model, the balls may be kept in their 
places by a plate of glass covering the wheel. (Page 92.)* 

The following occiirs in a Scholium at page 82 of Dr. 
Gregory's " Treatise of Mechanics :" — 

Before we close our discussion respecting the lever, it may 
not be amiss just to remark, that in every attempt to deter- 
mine the advantage gained by this machine peculiar attention 
must be paid, not only to the directions in which the forces 
are exerted, but to the points on the lever to which their 
action is to be referred. Without a due regard to these par- 
ticulars, the mechanist will often be involved in error, even 
in simple cases where there might be supposed but little 
probability of mistake. In fact, even the simple property of 
the straight lever, that equal weights acting at equal distances 
from the fulcrum on opposite sides will be in equilibrio, 
while at unequal distances the one which acts most remotely 
from the fulcrum will preponderate, has more than once been 
a source of error in unskilful hands ; and in particular, it has 
lain at the foundation of most of those ill-fated and useless 
contrivances which have been struck out by such as were in 
pursuit of the perpetual motion. In these contrivances the 
object of the projector has generally been to apply different 
weights to a rotatory machine in such manner that, at 
successive moments of time, first one and then another should 
be brought to greater distances from the centre, and so, by 
being placed at the extremity of a longer lever, should pro- 
duce a constant motion. To prevent, therefore, such waste 
of time and ingenuity, we shall here describe an apparatus 
invented by Dr. Desaguliers (see Phil. Trans., No. 419, or 
New Abridg., vol. 6, p. 542), in which two equal weights 
may be placed at any imequal distance whatever from the 
centre of motion, and still remain in equilibrio. In Fig. 3, 
pi. 5, A B represents a balance with equal arms, and E F 
another of equal dimensions : they turn freely upon the 
centres C D, and their extremities are connected by equal 

• A Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy. By Thomas Young, 
M.D. 2vol8.4to. 1807. 


PERPKTUUM mobile; 

inflexible bars A E, B F ; the whole being permitted to move 
freely at the points A B C D, so as to assume the forms of 
varying parallelograms, in consequence of any motion upon 

{Fig. 3, pi. 5.) 

the points C and D. Across the bars A E, B F, are fixed 
others, as W U, P Q, from any points of which equal weights, 
P W, may be suspended. Now, on whatsoever part of the 
bar P Q the weight P is fixed, it is manifest that it will, on 
account of that bar being firmly connected with the vertical 
rod B F, act as though it were placed at F ; and, in like 
manner, in whatever part of the bar W U the weight W be 
suspended, it will act as though it were placed at E : so that, 
however great may be the difference of the distances of the 
bodies P and W from C D, they will still, if equal in weight, 
balance each other in any position of the system. Nor is 
this in any respect incompatible with the principle of the 
equal products of weight and velocity, which we have men- 
tioned (130) as a useful indication of an equilibrium; for, 
suppose this compound balance to be brought by motion on 
its centres into the position a b c d, the weights being then at 
w and p, those weights will have moved through the arcs 
Ww, Fp, while the extremities of the levers will have passed 
through the equal and respectively parallel arcs A a, E 6, B 3, 


¥/; of consequence, the velocities of the two weights will 
have been equal, as they ought to be, in conformity with that 
principle. Thus, then, it . appears, from this simple con- 
trivance, that weights do not preponderate in machines 
merely on accoimt of their different distances from the centre 
of motion; and, consequently, a mere increase of distance 
does not universally give a mechanical advantage. 

[The paragraph 130, before alluded to, occurs at page 71» 
as follows : — ] 

130. Writers on the subject of mechanics have often 
attempted to demonstrate the properties of the several simple 
machines by means of a celebrated theorem, which is this : 
When two heavy bodies counterpoise each other by means of 
any machine, and are then made to move together, the pro- 
ducts of each mass into its velocity, or, as it is technically 
expressed, the quantities of motion with which one body 
descends and the other ascends perpendicularly, will be 
equal. Since an equilibrium always accompanies this equality 
of motions, it bears such a resemblance to the case wherein 
two moving bodies stop each other when they meet together 
with equal quantities of motion, that many have thought that 
the cause of an equilibrium in the several machines might be 
immediately assigned by saying that, because one body always 
loses as much motion as it communicates to another, two 
heavy bodies coimteracting each other must continue at rest 
when they are so circumstanced that one cannot descend 
without causing the other to ascend at the same time, and 
with velocities inversely proportional to their masses ; for 
then, should one of them begin to descend, it must instantly 
lose its whole motion by communicating it to the other. But 
this argument, however plausible it may seem, is (as Dr. 
Hamilton remarked) by no means satisfactory ; for when we 
say that one body commimicates its motion to another, we 
must necessarily suppose the motion to exist first in the one 
and then in the other ; but in the present case, where the 
two bodies are so connected that one cannot possibly begin 
to move before the other, the descending body cannot be said 
to communicate its motion to the other, and thereby make it 
ascend ; but whatever we should suppose causes one body to 
descend, must also be the immediate cause of the other's 
ascending, since, from the connection of the bodies, it muit 

142 PERPExyuM mobile; 

act upon them both together, as if they were really but one. 
And therefore, without contradicting the laws of motion, we 
might suppose the superior weight of the heavy body, which 
is in itself more than able to sustain the lighter, would over- 
come the lighter, and cause it to ascend with the same quantity 
of motion with which the heavier descends ; especially as 
both their motions, taken together, may be less than what 
the diiFerence of the weights, which is here supposed to be 
the moving force, would be able to produce in a body falling 
freely. For these reasons, and various others which might 
easily be assigned, we are of opinion that all proofs founded 
upon this theorem as a basis are necessarily imsatisfactory : 
we have, nevertheless, thought it right to notice it ; and, as 
it may serve as a good index of an equilibrium in many 
machines, and admits in some instances of a useful applica- 
tion, we may again refer to it in the practical part of this 

In treating " Of Friction," Millington says : — 

From a number of experiments that have been made to 
investigate the power of friction, it appears to increase in a 
less ratio than that of the weight of the moving body, 
although this conclusion is contrary to the generally-received 
opinion, and has a limit ; for if the moving siirface be too 
small or too thin to support its own weight, it will not bear 
evenly, and will wear into a groove or notch which may 
occasion much additional friction. 

However perfectly a piece of machinery may be made, still 
friction, to a certain degree, must ever exist, and cannot be 
prevented. It follows, therefore, that the power that is given 
to one extreme of a machine can never be conveyed without 
abatement to the other ; and hence it will immediately appear 
that a perpetual motion is impossible, because this presumes 
that a certain power is to be communicated to a machine, and 
is to be transferred through all its different movements from 
the beginning to the end of the machine, when it must be 
given back again without diminution, in order that it may be 
communicated back again to the beginning of the machine to 

* A Trectise of Mechanics. Bv Olinihus Gregory, LL.D., &c. 
2 vols. 8vo. Third edition, 1815. (Vol. 1, pp. 71 and 82.) 


produce a repetition of the same impulse it had produced in 
the first instance, otherwise the motion of the machine could 
not be maintained. But since no effect can be produced that 
is greater than its cause, and as the cause must be diminished 
by friction, vis inertitSy &c., in its transfer through a machine, 
so it cannot be renewed with a power equal to that with 
which it began; consequently, a perpetual motion must be 
considered as an unattainable thing, inasmuch as it implies a 
renewal of power which no machine can give to itself.* 

In his " Manual," Partington describes, as follows, a 
well-known galvanic apparatus maintaining long-continued 
motion : — 

Mr. Singer contrived an arrangement (of M. De Luc's 
electrical colimm or dry pile) which is well calculated to 
form a perpetual motion, by excluding, to a very considerable 
extent, the operation of extraneous causes of interruption ; 
and it at the same time renders the disposition of the appa- 
ratus rather elegant. A series of from 1,200 to 1,600 groups 
are arranged in two columns of equal length, which are 
separately insulated in a vertical position by glass pillars con- 
structed on his principle of insulation ; the positive end of 
one column is placed lowest, and the negative end of the 
other ; and their upper extremities being connected by a wire, 
they may be considered as one continuous column. A small 
bell is situated between each extremity of the colimm and its 
insulating support, and a brass ball is suspended by a thin 
thread of raw silk, so as to hang midway between the bells, 
and at a very little distance from each of them. For this 
purpose, the bells are connected, during the adjustment of 
the pendulum, by a wire, that their attraction may not inter- 
fere with it ; and, when the wire is removed, the motion of 
the pendulum commences. The apparatus is placed upon a 
circular mahogany base, in which a groove is turned to 
receive the lower edge of a glass shade, with which the 
whole is covered.f 

♦ An Epitome of the Elementary Principles of Natural and Experi- 
mental Philosophy. 1 vol. 8vo. 1823. Page 85. 

f A Manual of Natural and Experimental Philosophy. By Charles F. 
Partington. 8vo. 1828. Vol. 2, p. 206. 

144 PERPETUUM mobile; 

Dr. Amott, in his " Elements of Physics," section 2 of the 
first part, on " Motions and Forces," says : — 

Further illustrative of the truths that action and reaction 
are equal and contrary, and that in every case of hard bodies 
striking each other, they may be regarded as compressing a 
very small strong spring between them, we may mention that 
when any elastic body, as a billiard ball, strikes another 
larger than itseK, and reboimds, it gives to that other, not 
only all the motion which it originally possessed, but an 
additional quantity, equal to that with which it recoils, owing 
to the equal action in both directions of the repulsion or 
spring which causes the recoil. When the difference of size 
between the bodies is very great, the returning velocity of the 
smaller is nearly as great as its advancing motion was, and it 
gives a momentum to the body struck, nearly double of what 
it originally itself possessed. This phenomenon constitutes 
the paradoxical case of an effect being greater than its cause, 
and has led persons imperfectly acquainted with the subject 
to seek from the principle a perpetuum mobile, (Page 109.) 

The following reflections occur at page 141, part 2, 
" Mechanics :" — 

What an infinity of vain schemes — some of them displaying 
great ingenuity — for perpetual motions, and new mechaniced 
engines of power, &c., would have been checked at once, had 
the great truth been generally understood, that no form or 
combination of machinery ever did or ever can increase, in 
the slightest degree, the quantity of power applied. Ignor- 
ance of this is the hinge on which most of the dreams of 
mechanical projectors have turned. No year passes, even 
now, in which many patents are not taken out for such 
supposed discoveries; and the deluded individuals, after 
selling perhaps even their household goods to obtain the 
means of securing the supposed advantages, often sink in 
despair, when their attempts, instead of bringing riches and 
happiness to their families, end in disappointment and utter 
ruin. The frequency and eagerness and obstinacy with 
which even talented individuals, owing to their imperfect 
knowledge of this part of natural philosophy, have engaged 
in such undertakings, is a remarkable phenomenon in human 


In section 1 of the third part, treating on " Hydrostatics,'* 
he says : — 

A projector thought that the vessel of his contrivance, 
represented here, was to solve the renowned problem of the 
perpetual motion.* It was goblet-shaped, 
lessening gradually towards the bottom 
until it became a tube, bent upwards at 
c, and pointing with an open extremity 
into the goblet again. He reasoned thus : 
A pint of water in the goblet a must 
more than counterbalance an ounce which 
the tube b will contain, and must there- 
fore be constantly pushing the ounce forward into the vessel 
again at a, and keeping up a stream or circulation, which will 
cease only when the water dries up. He was confoimded 
when a trial shewed him the same level in a and in 6.f 

In Montucla's admirable " Histoire des Mathematiques," 
completed by J. de la Lande, and published in 4 vols., 4to., 
1802, no less than eight pages are devoted to a dissertation 
(here briefly translated) as follows : — 

On perpetual motion — a chimera old and celebrated enough 
in mechanics for us to treat of it in this work. It is under- 
stood to be a movement which continually preserves and 
renews itself without exterior help. Many real discoveries 
have been the result of this enquiry. Montucla's " Mathe- 
matical Recreations" and the "Journal des Savans," 1678 
to 1746, treat on this subject. Several machines have been 
made, intended to solve this knotty problem, and made much 
noise in the scientific world, but have all proved failures ; 
and it is now more an insult than praise to say any one is 

* A contrivance on precisely the same principle here enunciated, was 
proposed by the Ahbe de la Roque, in *' Le Journal des Sj^avans, Paris, 
1686. The instrument was a U tuhe, one leg longer than the other and 
bent over, so that any liquid might drop into the top end of the short leg, 
which he proposed to be made of wax, and the long one of iron. Pre- 
suming the liquid to be more condensed in the metal than the wax tube, it 
would flow from the end into the wax tube, and so continue. Page 29* 

t Elements of Physics, or Natural Philosophy. By Neil Arnott, M.D. 
Third editioD, 1828. Page 270. 



searching after perpetual motion. Among all the known 
properties of matter and motion, there does not appear among 
them one single principle that would give the intended effect. 
It is allowed that action and reaction must be equal. Fric- 
tion and the air also retard motion. Neither can any machine 
receive greater motive power than that which is first com- 
municated to it. And perpetual motion cannot take place 
imless the power communicated be much greater than the 
generating power, and imless it compensates for the diminu- 
tion of power caused by friction, which is impossible. Thus 
the question is reduced to finding a weight heavier than itself, 
or an elastic power greater than itself. Thus it is requisite 
to find some method by which a combination of mechanical 
power will gain a strength equivalent to that which is lost ; 
it is principally this last poiijt that is sought, to resolve the 
problem. It is certain that the multiplication of powers 
serves no purpose, as whatever is gained in power is lost in 
time, so that the quantity of motion remains the same. One 
small power can never be mechanically made really equal to 
a greater one. 

Maupertius, in his letters on different scientific subjects, 
remarks that atmospheric changes, &c., are excluded, and 
that inertia, &c., are alone made subservient to obtaining 
perpetual motion, which he considers unattainable. Inertia 
and elasticity are also inapplicable. 

In 1700, a report was current that perpetual motion had 
been found. Sauveur explained it to the Academy of Sciences, 
and Parent proved its impossibility. 

In the philosophical works* of *s Gravesande, published at 
Amsterdam, 1774, is an account of a machine constructed by 
Orffyreus in 1715. It was called the Wheel of Cassel, and 
is described in a letter to Newton. Gravesande is persuaded 
that it can be shown that perpetual motion is not a contra- 
diction ; and it appears to him that Leibnitz was wrong in 
regarding as an axiom the impossibility of this movement. 
It caused general surprise that this great man should try to 
prove its possibility, and expressing a hope that the prejudices 
of mathematicians regarding this movement would not pre- 
vent their giving serious attention to the subject. Jean 
Bernoulli also believes in the success of Orffyreus' s discovery. 
(See Opera, tome i., page 41.) 

Wolf, in I7I6, in his " Dictionary of Mathematics,*' gives 


the arguments of Sturm, Lorini, St6vin, and Leibnitz, against 
perpetual motion. He considers there is a doubt whether 
the movement in Orffyreus^s machine was not the effect of 
some invisible fluid. 

The examination that ^sGravesande made of Orffyreus's 
wheel so aggravated him that he broke the machine the same 
day, as may be seen in the " Annal. Physico-Med. de Breslaw," 
Leipzig, 1723, page 427. Also, in his life, ^sGravesande 
states that Orflfyreus wrote on the wall that it was the imper- 
tinent curiosity of the professor which caused him to break it. 
This seems to indicate that he feared an ulterior examination ; 
but *8 Gravesande has never confessed that he himself was 
deceived. At the same period appeared D. G. Diez's disser- 
tation against perpetual motion, and he names De Lanis, 
Drebbel, Becher, and Mitz, all as chimeras. 

Peresc and Kepler were incredulous on this subject, the 
first wrote 1691 and the latter 1607 (published 1718). 

Baron de Zach has made some very curious researches in 
respect to different inventions for perpetual motion, in 
" Reichs-Anzeiger," 1796. In conclusion, there is a lecture 
on perpetual motion, by Henrich., 1770. 

In 1775, the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris passed 
the resolution not to examine any machines announced as 
intended for perpetual motion, and gave their motives for so 
doing in the History of the Academy, 1775, page 65. 

[See Appendix E.] 

148 PERPETUUM mobile; 



The "Gentleman's Magazine'* and "Annual Registers" 
afford several interesting communications; some from each 
were necessarily transferred to Chapter II. We have here, 
also, the "Monthly Magazine" of 1806-19; "Annals of 
Philosophy," 1820 ; and " Royal Institution," 1802. 

The following are from the " Gentleman's Magazine :" — 

I. — ^Two " Schemes for the Discovery of the Longitude." 

Two persons — one at Exeter, the other at Dublin — conceive 
they have made some discoveries towards finding out the 
important secret of the longitude. 

The Irish gentleman declares he has made several trials 
with good success, after a plain, easy, intelligent way, by 
machines of his own invention, which have given him an 
entire confidence of the truth of their operation ; but not 
having opportunity to try the experiment at sea in different 
kinds of weather, wherein he has not the least doubt of 
success, he invites the assistance of some publick-spirited 
gentleman to fit out a ship two or three months for that 
purpose ; on which consideration he will communicate the 
secret, and assign over half the reward. 

The Exonian (who, by the way, signs himself "The 
Farmer," because he had wrote something formerly under 
that name) is more explicit, and gives the following account 
of his scheme : — 

Discovery of a Perpetual Motion^ whereby the Longitude may be 
mechanically found. 

Before I proceed to this simple, yet most useful, discovery, 
I shall premise a few necessary things, viz. : — 

1. That the difference of time is the difference of longitude. 


because every 15 degrees to the eastward of any meridian is 
an hour sooner, and every 15 degrees to the westward is an 
hour later, in time, than at the said meridian ; since 24 times 
15 degrees compose the 360 degrees of the earth's circum- 

2. Hence it must follow, that if any vessel revolve round 
the globe westward, a day will be gained when that revolu- 
tion is performed ; and if she make her revolution eastward, 
a day must be lost, since by how much she departs from her 
meridian to the eastward, by just so much she loses ; because 
every 15 degrees that way is one hour earlier in time ; the 
360 degrees in this eastern circuit must be 24 hours earlier, 
and consequently that time must be lost by a well-regulated 
perpetual motion, and the contrary. 

3. It is generally allow' d, that the perpetual motion 
being found, this would discover the longitude ; which I also 
grant, but with this provision, that it is so nicely regulated as 
to keep time exactly with or without an equation-table ; that 
is to say, equal time to correspond with the sun. 

4. Yet, as I prefer such a perpetual motion as will keep 
pace with apparent time, or, in other words, with the sun's 
shadow on a dial, or a true meridian line, being discovered 
stands in no need of any equation-table at all; so I shall 
evidently make it appear that such a motion is found, in a 
proper sense ^for our purpose. So that what has hitherto 
been thought impossible by the generality of mankind shall 
no longer be a secret. And, 

5. It must be granted, when duly considered, that there 
are many movements which, in the sense foregoing, may be 
called perpetual ; yet, hitherto, there never came under my 
observation any of them that could be depended on in the 
case before us, except that one which I shall discover. 

6. I will instance in two particulars, that are easily framed, 
tho* not very common. 

First, There are some spring clocks and watches, so con- 
trived by art as to lose no time in winding, by having a spring 
fixed to stand free from the work, except at such times as 
they are to be wound up ; but then, by pulling a string 
fastened to it for that end, this spring presses sufficiently on a 
tooth in the main wheel to keep the movement going, so that 
no time is lost in winding. And this, I say, in a proper sense 
to the purpose, may be calFd perpetual ; yet none of them 

160 PERPETUtTM mobile; 

can be so suiEciently adjusted as to keep time to exactness, 
therefore not to be depended on in this case. 

Secondly, Our long pendulum clocks, which are by the 
same contrivance kept going while wound, may be said, in 
the same sense, to be perpetual in their motion ; yet even 
these, tho' nearer the truth than the other, are not to be 
depended on in a matter of so great moment. Nor, indeed, 
is there any equation-table extant that is just, even Flamstead's 
correct table being about 15 minutes erroneous at one time of 
the year, tho' it is right in October, when his greatest 
difference comes to 16 min. 2 sec. 

Having thus premised, my next business shall be to 
demonstrate a perpetual motion, that comes so near the truth 
as not to vary from apparent time (tho* that is very unequal) 
3 min. in a whole year, tho' daily proved by a dial well set, or 
by a just meridian line ; which I take to be the greatest 
discovery hitherto so publickly made manifest. 

But in order thereto, and to carry instruction with me to 
a mean capacity, I must have recourse to the method whereby 
so wonder-working a machine was first framed, by the late 
most ingenious Joseph Williamson, watch-maker, in London, 
whose name there is famous, and his works greatly admired. 

[He then explains how this horologist, from "his thirst 
after the knowledge of equation," spent seven years in 
forming correct tables.] 

From this true equation-table, this excellent workman 
formed an elliptical wheel, that revolved once a year, and so 
fixed it to the day of the month, that it had such influence on 
the pendulum, by shortening and lengthening it, that his 
clocks, thus framed, would keep time to admiration with the 
sun, and therefore he called them his sun-clocks. This is 
the perpetual motion I commend to the world, for it loses no 
time at all in winding. 

[This last expression shows how much it partook of a real 
perpetual motion. He goes on to state the praise bestowed 
on the invention in " a speech made to the Royal Society by 
Sir Isaac Newton." After this, follow observations on its 
uses, the mode of fixing it on board ship, with several neces- 
sary precautions.] 

And so curious is the invention, that the spring which 
keeps the work going while the clock is wound up is also 
fixed to a plate that always by its force slides back again to 


close the holes that receive the key for that end, when the 
tooth of the main wheel has, in its course, slipt from it. 

I subscribe, 

The Farmer. 

P.S. — Nothing hitherto found can be so regularly ad- 
justed to the time as a long pendulum movement. All 
springs are fallible, and short pendulums too. But those of 
about 33 inches long, that beat true seconds, are next to 
infallibility, being kept in perpetual motion, as I here mani- 
fest they may be.* 

II. — ^Raising water: — ^Fig. 1, Col. Kranach's machine for 
constant motion, with a power tgt raise water. Fig. 2, Mr. 
Gervas's engine for raising water. 


Fig. 1 represents an artificial machine for constant motion ; 
the inventor is Col. Kranach, who, in a book printed at Ham- 
burgh, asserts that when once put in motion for any of the 
following works, it will continue its operation both night and 
day without any other help or assistance except that of a small 
quantity of standing water : that by it large and heavy weights 
may be drawn up, to 2,000 weight ; that in 24 hours it will 
fling out 2,400 barrels of water, and is therefore highly 
necessary for the draining of land overflown by inundations ; 
that it wiU be of great use in mines to draw up the water and 
ore 24 fathoms deep ; that it may be employed instead of 
wind or water mills, for all manner of uses ; and that this 
machine may be put either in a quick or slow motion. 

The author protests that he had laboured for thirty years 
together before he brought this machine to perfection, and 
declares his readiness to oblige any gentleman with a small 
or large model thereof, and to inspect the building of it for 
use, at a reasonable gratification. 

Vol. 7, 1737, p. «7. 

154 PERPETXJTJM mobile; 

Fig. 2. — This is a representation of an engine for raising 
water, like that erected by Mr. Gervas, at Sir John Chester's, 
near Newport Pagnel. 

A and B are two copper buckets of an imequal weight and 
size, suspended by chains, which alternately wind off and on 
the multiplying wheel Y Z ; the part Y being smaller in 
diameter, and Z larger, in proportion to the different lift for 
which each is designed. The buckets being both filled with 
water from the spring, which affords a fall of ten feet, the 
larger bucket A, being heavier when fuU, though the lighter 
empty, descends the ten feet from C to D, and weighs up 
the lesser bucket, from E to F, perhaps 30 feet, where touch- 
ing a trigger it discharges its water into a cistern W, whence 
it is conveyed for service by the pipe T ; at the same time, 
the water by the like means is discharged (and runs away) 
from the larger bucket, which then being lighter is drawn up 
by the smaller (but at that time becomes the heavier) bucket, 
in order to be filled again at the spring. This work is con- 
tinued day and night, without any other force, and has not 
been out of order since it was set up in 1725. The buckets 
are guided by two iron rods on each side, which run in 
grooves of the buckets, and the whole motion is kept steady 
by a jack fly L, which is turned by a spiral wheel at one end 
of the great axis M; and the other part of the regulator, 
being a quadrant with a moveable weight at I, is by a proper 
number of teeth on a conmiimicating wheel suffered to go 
only in a fourth of a circle, from G to K, and serves as a 
balance, while the chains of the buckets are winding off and 
on the wheels. 

This engine carries up one bucket containing 6 gallons of 
water in 5 minutes, but then there is a waste of water ten 
gallons, which are the contents of the larger bucket ; but 
Dr. Desaguliers observes, that it is not the hundredth part of 
what is spent by a water wheel to raise an equal quantity of 
water to the same height. The desirable improvement of 
this engine is to prevent the great waste of water, — and we 
are informed that can be effected in some degree by Thomas 
Yeoman, of Northampton. 

But the reason of exhibiting this engine, together with that 
of the German engine (Fig. 1) is from a suggestion, that a 
round weight might by some means be made to run in and 
out of a scale or bucket, and so raise up water with very little 

(Fig. 2, pi. 16.) 

(Fig. 1, pi. 18 ) 


or no waste. We promise, as an encouragement to the attempt, 
five pounds for the person who first compleats such a work, 
or produces a model for the like effect. 

This, it is apprehended, will be much easier performed than 
the great operations mentioned by Col. Kranach. However, 
that person who can come at such a secret will not want five 
pounds, or a hundred times larger.* 

III. — ^In the Gentleman's Magazine is described a " Self- 
moving Machine." 

A full account of the same machine, with an engraving, as 
here given, will be foimd in " Le Journal des Sgavans, 1678 
[re-printed Paris, 1724], 4to, page 79, entitled " Le mouve- 
ment perpetuel purement artificiel invente et execute par le 
P. Stanislas Solski, Jesuite Poonois." The Magazine 
article proceeds : — 

Description. — Fig. 1, a self-moving machine, invented by 
a Polish Jesuit. It consists of a pump, whose body ah f g 
is a palm and two fingers* breadth in diameter, and four palms 
in height; the head d e f g\& a palm in height ; the cylinder 
a b d e of the body of the pump is two palms and a half in 
height, of which the piston c c fills up one palm ; the other 
palm and a half must hold at least five cans of water, each 
containing three quarts. * 

The wooden pipe from / g to the horizontal pipe n nis 
about thirty-two palms in vertical height. 

The author observes that if the diameter of the mouth of 
the pipe A « be equal to that of the cavity of the pimip, and 
the diameter of the iron rod h k be of such size as that the 
pipe f g n shall contain only seventeen cans of water, the 
maclune will be the easier worked, as the water being forced 
thro' a passage less strait meets with less resistance. 

The diameter of the hole / g must be equal to half the 
diameter d e oi the body of the pump, whence it will be four 
times straiter than the body of the pump, because circles are 
to one another as the squares of their diameters. 

The machine works in the following manner : — The piston 

• Vol. 17, 1747, p. 459. 

160 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

c c being at the bottom of the pump, the suckers, both of 
the pump and of the piston, shut by their own weight, whence 
by the descent of the bucket p, the wheel m w, six feet in 
diameter, is turned, by which means the chain k z, by passing 
round the axis II oi the wheel, raises the iron rod k A, and 
the piston c c, at which instant the sucker of the pump opens, 
and gives passage to the water, which is forced into the body 
of the pump by the weight of the external air. The counter- 
poise V descends, and so turns the wheel m m, round which 
goes the cord mm o, which, descending on the other side, 
raises the bucket. 

In proportion as the counterpoise v descends, and the 
bucket p is raised, the axis of the great wheel is freed from 
the twistings of the cord, and so the piston by its own weight, 
and that of the iron rod, falls down to the bottom of the body 
of the pump, and by that means the sucker of the pump 
shuts, and the five cans of water moimt up thro* the piston 
by its sucker, which opens above. The same operation is 
readily performed again, in order to carry that water into the 
pipe f g nni, whence it is discharged thro' the horizontal 
pipe fi n into the basin, which holds at least thirty-two pounds 
of water. This water falls into the bucket jo, thro' the pipe 
q r, whose clap opens, being raised by two cross sticks, which 
are fastened to the cord, and lift up the bar o y. 

The bucket p contains four cans and a half of water ; it is 
two palms in length, ten at the opening, and six inches in 
depth, where the two long faces \miting form an angle of 120 
degrees : being thus filled, it descends apace, and the bar n o 
being depressed, the clap falls and closes the pipe q r, and as 
it descends 30 feet, and as the great wheel is 10 feet in 
diameter, it makes an entire revolution, and thus the axis / / 
twisting up the chain k z, the rod k b raises anew the piston c, 
and carries again at least four cans and a half of water into 
the basin n q, thro' the horizontal pipe n n. 

The bucket, when descended almost to the surface of the 
water of the well, is raised again by the cord 8 t, which is 
too short to reach the water, and being for the present dis- 
charged of its weight, the piston descends to the bottom of 
the body of the pump, by its own weight and that of the 
rod h k, and the cross sticks o of the cord of the bucket 
coming imder the bar o y, raises it together with the clap, 
that the water of the basin n q may fall again, thro' the pipe 


q r, into the bucket p, causing it to descend anew, and so 
maintain a perpetual motion. 

There are several other small pieces in this machine, the 
use of which is easily comprehended.* 

IV. — ^A new plain draught of a Self-moving Wheel, tho* 
not perpetual ; with a description of its parts, and manner of 
operating; submitted to the inspection and amusement of 
the curious. 

Directions to make a Self moving Wheel, 

Let there be a well-turned board, of at least two feet 

At Fig. 1, six pins for the chequers to turn upon. 

At Fig. 2, let in brass grooves into the board for the 
receiving of rollers, which must be fastened to the bottom 
points of the small chequers. 

At Fig. 3, place pullies. 

At the points of the small chequers fasten chains that pass 
lound the pullies, and are made fast to both points of the 
next large chequer ; the chains must be all of an equal 

Make very substantial brass chequers, with good joints to 
^by free without wriggling, and of as large a size as the 
dicumference of the wheel will admit, and fix weights at the 
points of the said chequers. 

Remarks upon the manner of Operating, 

Observe, that one pound, placed at the zenith of the larg 
chequer, is correctly equal to two pounds placed at the nadir 
of the small chequer ; and that this power (if occasion be) 
may easily be either increased or diminished at pleasure, by 
only fastening the chains farther off or nigher to the weights : 
therefore, it is self-evident that the weights above the horizon 
cannot want full power for the drawing in of all the weights 
below it ; more especially those particular weights that arrive 
gradually to the mounting side of the wheel, as is shewn 
hereafter. And this is done by reason of the chains being 
all in a diagonal position, therefore the weights below the 

• Vol.21, 1751, p. 391. 


horizon cannot be otherwise drawn in by such slant lines, 
than into a gradual, regular, elliptical form, as they appear in . 
the plate. But to prevent the said weights from being either 
too much or too little drawn in, this diagonal position of the 
chains may, by means of the pullies, be made to slant more 
or less, so as to answer to the right elliptical form of drawing 
in the weights as shall be requisite ; and thus, by this elliptical 
form of the weights, the power of gravity must needs give the 
wheel some considerable share of movement, so as to cause the 
weight B, &c., to descend below the horizon, where they will 
run out to the same length, as you see the weight A does, to 
the very great and constant supply of power to the descending 
side of the wheel. 

As to the moimting side of the wheel, by the manner of 
chaining the chequers to each other, they become partly as 
it' were all of one piece, so that the weights above the horizon 
can no way press down their chequers, without communicating 
their drawing-in power to, and being always felt, in a certain 
measure, by every weight of the wheel, in the elliptical 
manner above mentioned, with respect to the diagonal position 
of the chains. Moreover, whatever number of weights shall 
descend below the horizon on the one hand, the like number 
of weights must ascend above it on the other, where they, in 
conjimction, will press down their chequers with ample force, 
for the gradual dxawing-in of those extended weights which 
are their next followers, reducing them into the same less 
extended form as they themselves were in just before they 
were carried above the horizon. After the same gradual 
manner, by the power of the weights above, will all the 
extended weights be thus gradually reduced, drawn in, and 
carried round, when, at the same time, the elliptical form of 
the wheel, by the constant supply of weights running out at 
the descending side, will at aU times be kept up, like as at 
the first setting off of the wheel, for the continuance of the 

By all which it appears that there are two different and 
distinct acting powers in this wheel, both which, by the 
freeness of the joints and other parts, in a workman-like 
manner, cannot but act with that puissance as to leave no 
room to reflect upon friction in any respect whatever. 

Therefore, if, upon due inspection, no objection shall appear 
against either of the said powers, is not here a discovery of a 


new power in a short, easy, obvious manner, capable of any 
improvement in proportion to the size of the wheel, so as to 
be applicable to ten thousand different uses, both great and 

Suppose we compare this wheel with the Marquis of 
Worcester's great wheel (see vol. 18,* pp. 9, 61, 107), 
some time since shewn in the Tower of London, there will 
appear the following most material differences : — His wheel 
was contrived with loose, running weights, forty in number, 
of fifty pounds each ; which, at the nadir, bore the same 
distance from the centre as the weights at the descending side, 
upon which accoimt, no such contrivance can possibly ever 
answer the design to keep moving, as is easily demonstrable ; 
whereas, in this wheel, the weights at the nadir will at all 
times be considerably nigher the center than the weights of 
the descending side, the consequence of which wants no 
explaining. And should one of these wheels be made up for 
any large use, and, by mistakes in the workman, it be so 
made as not to answer ftdly to the purpose, as mentioned 
above, still the same would be of exceeding great service by 
being applied to co-operate with the powers of a fire engine, 
for the raising of double the quantity of water they now raise, 
"which is the same thing as the saving of half the quantity of 
coals that are now consumed. t 

*^* As a considerable wager is depending whether a 
model, upon these principles, can be made to operate, any 
artist, who imagines that he can make such a one, at a 
moderate price, may send his terms in writing to E. Cave, at 
St. John's Gate. 

The Self -moving Wheel shewn to be defective by a Mechanical 

Mr. Urban, — * * * What I have here sent you is an 
attempt to prove that the wheel with weights, described in 
your last magazine, tho* put in motion by the hand, will not 
continue and preserve that motion any better than a common 
plain wheel would. * * * * 

In the following demonstration, I suppose, and take for 

• Where a copy is given of the Marquis's Century of Inventions, with 
original remarks on each. 

t Vol. 21, 1751, p. 448. 

166 PERPETUUM mobile; 

granted, that Mr. A. B., by his self-moving, tho* not perpetual, 
wheel, as he terms it, means such a wheel as, by the action 
of gravity alone, would continue in a regular imiform motion 
round its axis, till some of the parts of it are decayed or out 
of order. I suppose, too, since he says nothing to the con- 
trary, the weights are all exactly equal. And I suppose and 
allow that such weights, fitted to the wheel in the manner he 
directs, would, by the action of gravity, so form themselves as 
to be constantly farther distant from the center of motion on 
the descending side than on the ascending. It must be 
allowed, too, that any weight so fixed (or, to speak more pro- 
perly, the center of gravity of it) would, in every entire 
revolution of the wheel, describe a curve line returning into 
itself again, and that all the other weights would successively 
describe the same curve — ^perhaps not of a regular elliptical 
form, as Mr. A. B. imagines, but quite irregular in its shape. 
However this be, it matters not, so long as a line passing per- 
pendicularly thro* the center of motion, and produced both 
ways till it touches the curve in two points (which points we 
shall call the zenith and the nadir, and suppose to be marked 
with the letters Z and N), divides it into two unequal parts, 
whereof that through which the weights descend is the 
largest and most distant from the center of motion, as, from 
what has been already granted, must be the case here. 

These things being premised, let us now examine what 
power gravity will supply any one single weight with, to 
continue the wheel in motion : let us call this weight W. 
Now, 'tis plain that W, in its passage from the zenith to the 
nadir, thro' the greatest and most distant part of the curve, 
will yet descend perpendicularly, or get nearer to the center 
of the earth only as much as comes to the length of the line 
Z N. In its further progress from the nadir to the zenith, 
from whence it first set out, tho' it be thro' a less and nearer 
part of the curve, it will, notwithstanding this, ascend perpen- 
dicularly, or recede from the earth's center the length of the 
same line N Z ; and, therefore, since the weight W is obliged, 
in every entire revolution, to ascend perpendicularly thro' as 
large a space as it descends, it follows that the reaction of 
gravity upon it, whilst it is in the ascending part of the 
curve, will be exactly equal to the action of gravity whilst in 
the contrary part of it; whence 'tis plain that, upon the 
whole, this particular weight W will not be supply' d, by 


gravity, with the least power to continue the wheel in motion, 
tho', by application of the hand, it was once set agoing. The 
same will hold true of every other weight fixed to the wheel ; 
and therefore all the weights, be the number what it will, 
will have no power at all, upon the whole, to continue the 
wheel in motion ; so that (if we abstract from what difference 
may be caus'd through friction — ^resistance) this wheel would 
continue moving no longer than any common plain wheel 
would that had the same velocity at first given to it by the 
hand. Q.E.D. 

But to make this still plainer, instead of one, let us con- 
sider two opposite weights together, and examine wherein 
the material difference lies between the action of two equal 
weights so placed in this machine, and of two others fixed to 
the ends of any common lever, whose center of motion is at 
some distance from its middle point. Now, with respect to 
the lever, let the two equal weights fixed to it be called W 
and X. Let W be that which is farthest from the center of 
motion, and let the lever be placed in a horizontal situation. 
The reason why W will in this case preponderate, tho' the 
weights be equal, is because it can approach the center of the 
earth faster than it obliges X to recede from it ; for W, in 
passing from its first position to its lowest point— that is, till 
the lever becomes vertical — ^will have got nearer to the center 
of the earth, just as much as comes to its o^vn distance from 
the center of motion, and X, in the meanwhile, will have 
ascended thro* a space equal to its distance from the same ; 
but the distance of X from the fulcrum, or center of motion, 
was, by supposition, less than that of W ; and, therefore, 
since W in this case does in the same time descend further 
than it obliges X to ascend, it necessarily follows that it can 
and does descend faster, which is the reason of its prepon- 
derating and causing the lever to move. 

But tibe case of two equal and opposite weights that are fixed 
to Mr. A. B.'s wheel is quite different; for, let the two 
weights be here, also, called W and X, His plain that in the 
same time that W moves from Z to N, X must move from N 
to Z ; in which time also X will have ascended just as much 
as W has descended, or will have receded from the center of 
the earth just as much as W has approached towards it : the 
recess of the one and the access of the other being equal to 
the same line Z N. And therefore, tho' the absolute velocities 

168 PERPETUUM mobile; 

of W and X may be, and are, very different ( W in this case 
describing a larger part of the curve, whilst X describes a 
less), yet wUl their perpendicular velocities be the same ; and, 
consequently, since the two weights are, by supposition, 
equal, W will not preponderate or cause X to move. The 
same may be said of every other pair of weights that are 
opposite, and therefore all the weights on the descending 
side will not preponderate or cause the wheel to move. 
Whence 'tis plain again that Mr. A. B.*s wheel with weights 
is no better (fisposed to be put or continue in motion, by the 
action of gravity upon it, than any common plain wheel is. 

Mb. Ubban, — Now I am writing to you upon this subject, 
I shall beg leave to add a short general demonstration, to 
shew that it is utterly impossible for any wheel whatsoever, 
by means of weights affixed, to be so contrived, as, by the 
action of gravity alone, to be put and continued in motion 
round its axis, even so much as for one single revolution. 

*Tis a well-known truth in mechanicks, that if gravity, 
actmg on any body, can't move the center of gravity of that 
body, it can't move the body at all. Now, a wheel furnished 
with weights, in any manner whatsoever, may be considered 
as one complete body, the center of gravity of which can 
either be made to move, by the action of gravity upon the 
body, or it can not. If the line of direction of the center of 
gravity of this complex body passes directly thro' the center 
of motion, in this case, the center of gravity, and, con- 
sequently, the body itself, will not be moved at all by the 
action of gravity alone ; but if the aforesaid line of direction 
passes on one side of the center of motion, in this case, as 
the center of gravity is not immediately sustained, it may 
therefore descend, and the wheel may move ;* but this 
center of gravity, by the action of gravity on the body, will 
never be made to perform a whole revolution round the 
center of motion; it will only vibrate for some time in the 

• I say that in this case it may descend, but not that it always will 
do so; for tho', in the wheel of the Marquis of Worcester, and of Mr. 
A. B., the line of direction of the center of gravity of the whole machine 
passes on one side of the center of motion, and at a considerable distance 
from it, yet in such machines, tho* turned by the hand, the center of 
gravity will not move at all, but is as much fixed as if it coincided with 
the center cf motion. 


manner of a pendulum, which vibrating motion, by unavoid- 
able friction and resistance, will be soon destroyed, and the 
body, with its center of gravity, remain at rest without having 
performed so much as one single entire revolution. Q.E.D. 
If the publishing of what has been here said gives such 
satisfaction to the publick as may prevent any future 
attempts of this kind, which have hitherto always proved 
fruitless, and frequently very expensive, and which, I am 
thoroughly persuaded, can never be successful, my end is 
answered ; but if not, I shall at least have the satisfaction 
myself to think that it can do no harm in the world, which is 
more than can be truly said of many things that have lately 
appeared in print. 

Twiford, Nov. 20, 1751. T. P.* 

Mr. Urban, — Reading in your last Magazine, p. 501, Mr. 
T. P.*s attempt to prove the wheel with weights, described in 
your last October Magazine, p. 449, tho' put in motion by 
the hand, will not continue moving any longer than a common 
wheel would ; when, at the same time, he allows that weights 
so fitted to a wheel, in the manner directed, would, by the 
action of gravity, so form themselves as to be constantly 
further distant from the center of the wheel on the descending 
side than on the ascending; he also allowing that weights 
so ordered would, in every revolution of the wheel, describe 
a curve line, returning into itself again, and that all the 
weights of the wheel will describe the same curve, and, by 
consequence, granting, though he does not mention it, that 
the weights at the bottom of the wheel, as well as all those at 
the moimting side, will be always nigher the center than the 
weights at the descending : these things being supposed 
must infallibly render the wheel constantly lapsided, which is 
all that is, or need be, required to continue its motion. 
Whatever may be in old objections, against old contrivances, 
is one thing, but to contrive to have the weights at the 
bottom of the wheel, as well as the weights at the mounting 
side, to be always nigher the center than the weights of the 
descending side, I take to be a quite new discovery, and is 

• Vol.21, 17J1, p. 501. 

170 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

more than can be said of any former contrivance whatever ; 
but as to the consequences of this promising contrivance, I 
cannot see how it can be emy further known, without making 
of the experiment. 

I am, &c.. 
Queen Street, Westminster. M. B.* 

V. — Perpetual Motion proposed to be effected by Magnetism. 
— Alleged discovery by Hero Hicken, of Friezland. 

Mb. Ubban, — ^Ever since I became acquainted with the 
mechanical powers (which is now near seven years ago), the 
greatest part of my leisure time has been employed upon 
inventions for the good of the publick. Each branch of ex- 
perimental philosophy has in turn engaged my attention; 

and I might also add, that each has in turn but modesty 

forbids me to proceed. Yet I must tell you, that if the 
attraction of the loadstone would have supported a weight at 
the distance of but | of an inch (which a printed book affirms 
for a truth), gravity before this time had been useless in 
clockwork, and the longitude effectually discovered. I was 
extremely sorry, as you may very well suppose, that so useful 
a scheme should miscarry ; and so much the more, as I was 
within less than an inch of it. But disappointments, Mr. 
Urban, we must expect to meet with, as my attempts upon 
perpetual motion have often experimentally taught me. For 
that, you must know, in spite of demonstration, has ever been 
my favorite pursuit, and many are the projects that I have 
successively been big with ; some lasted a week, some a fort- 
night, but a month most commonly put an end to them all. 
But, however, I have at last succeeded. My present scheme 
had overcome every objection that either my own head, or 
my neighbour's, could possibly bring against it ; and I was 
drawing out a plan of it to transmit to you, when the follow- 
ing article appeared in the " Gazetteer :" — 

" A paragraph from Amsterdam, in the last * Utrecht Ga- 
zette,* says, that at Doornum, in East Friezland, a mechanic, 
named Hero Hicken, has invented a machine, which, being 

• Vol. 21, 1751, p. 610. 


once set in motion, teeps going perpetually, till such time as 
the materials of which it is composed are fallen to decay, or 
the structure of the machine itself altered." 

It is impossible for me to tell you, Mr. Urban, what a 
terrible damp this threw upon my spirits ; in spight of all my 
philosophy, I was neither able to eat, drink, or sleep, for a 
considerable time after. For this was not only a full demon- 
stration that my scheme was practicable, but also attended 
with this melancholy circumstance, that England would lose 
the honour of it. 

As a month has now elapsed since I met with the above 
account, without any further confirmation of it, my uneasi- 
ness is greatly abated, and I now begin to flatter myself, that 
either M. Hicken's project has failed, or that the whole 
account is only one of those periodical paragraphs that appear 
once in about thirty years. But, as my situation does not 
permit me to make a strict enquiry into the truth of these 
matters, I freely resign that office to those of your readers 
who have leisure enough to examine the arcana of news- 
mongers, or money enough to take a tramp to Doomum. 

I am, &c., 

Andbew DoswiL. 


A B C D represents a frame of brass or wood for the ma- 
chine E F to rim in. 

E and F are two brass wheels, similar and equal, fixed 
upon a moveable axis G. 

1, 2, 3, &c., are a nimiber of artificial magnets, placed 
within the teeth of the wheel all round, and as near each 
other as is possible, provided they do not touch ; their north 
poles at E, and their south poles at F. 

H and I are two similar and equal magnets fixed in the 
brass plate A C, very near each other, but not touching. 

K and L two more fixed in the brass plate B D. 

Now, as the north pole of one magnet repels the north 
pole of another magnet, and attracts the south ; and inversely 
the south pole of one magnet repels the south pole of 
another, and attracts the north ; so the south pole, I, attracts 
all the north ones at E ; and the north pole, H, repels all 



the north ones at M. In like manner, K attracts at N, and 
L repels at O, and by this means the whole machine E F 
moves perpetually round. 

N.B. — As the success of the machine depends a good deal 
on the nearness of the poles, the twentieth part of an inch 
is the thickness I would recommend for the magnets ; the 
proportion of every other part is as the artist pleases. The 
magnets are to be put, not flat, but edgeway to the wheel ; 
and to prevent anything affecting their virtue after they are 
touched, a brass ring to slide over the whole will be most 

* Vol. S.-J, 1763, p. 439. 


VI. — Under the title of "A new-invented Machine for 
Raising Water," appears a letter — 

To the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufac- 
tures, and Commerce, the following proposal is with great 
deference submitted, by their most obedient humble sei-vant, 

Richard Blackwell. 

Mr. Urban, — Having read your Magazine for July last, 
wherein you have obliged the public with a print of that 
curious engine* for raising water in Kew Gardens, erected by 
the ingenious Mr. Sm^aton, it put me in mind of what I have 
often thought of — ^viz., that (upon the principle of Archi- 
Di^edes' water-screw) a machine might be contrived to raise 
water perpetually, by means of an over-shot wheel applied to 
the said screw, agreeable to the annexed drawing. On this 
principle I once undertook to construct a model of such a 
machine, but other employments not permitting me to finish 
it, I cannot ascertain the success ; yet I conceive the water 
which may be raised by the revolution of the screw, when 
applied to the overshot wheel, will be more than sufficient to 
keep it in constant motion ; and the surplus water may be 
applied to many useful purposes in life. 

The great utility of such a machine is very obvious, 
especially among the seats of our nobility and gentry, many 
of whom are so unhappily situated that they have no con- 
venience of water but at a continual expense of bringing it 
from some distant place ; whereas, could they raise it to a 
sufficient height, they might constantly be supplied without 
any trouble. Add to this the great advantage this machine 
may yield in pleasure gardens, and the infinite service the 
reservoir of water would be in cases of fire. 

If by experiment it should ?ippear that the water raised by 
the screw is more than sufficient to supply the over-shot wheel, 
the whole may be employed to add more power to that wheel, 
which may then be applied to many useful purposes where 
mill-work is applicable. 

• An Archimedes screw, erected in 1761. When worked by two horses, 
it supplies the lake and basins in the gardens with upwards of 3,60U 
hogsheads of water every twelve hours. 


PEHPETUUM alobile; 

The whole is submitted to those gentlemen whose know- 
ledge in hydrostaticks renders them proper judges of such 

A, the reservoir. 

B, the Archimedean screw, by the revolution of which the 
reservoir is supplied with water. 

C, the over-shot wheel, by the force of which the screw is 
kept in constant rotation. 

D, a small rivulet, or spring, which supplies the well with 

E, the bolt to regulate the flux of the water into the over- 
shot wheel.* 

Mr. Urban, — The ingenious gentleman whose plan of a 
machine for raising water by a perpetual motion you inserted 
in your Magazine (see p. 448) was, I am afraid, too sanguine 
in his hopes of success. Were the slowness of the motion in 
this machine in proportion to the force with which it is 
expected to operate thoroughly considered, I imagine no 
practical trial need be made to convince us of the fallacy of 
its contrivance. First, then — 

The water which is thrown up by the screw can never be able 

• Vol. 33, 1763, p. 448. 


to turn the wheel, both because of the smallness of its quantity 
and the slowness of its ascent through the screw, in proportion 
to its descent down the wheel ; for even supposing the screw 
to turn round twice (which is more than appears from the plan 
before us) whilst the wheel turns once, yet no more water 
can be thrown up by each revolution of the screw, than is 
contained in that part of its uppermost helix, which lies above 
an horizontal line drawn through the middle of the screw. 
(See the annexed diagram, A B.) Now, can twice this quantity 
of water be supposed to turn this wheel round — especially 
when the stream in which it falls, falls by fits, and is inter- 
mitted till the return of the mouth of the upper helix of the 
screw to the surface of the reservoir ? But though we sup- 
pose even this to be possible, if the screw were suspended at 
its center of motion, yet we can scarcely allow it to be so, 
when the screw is far from being thus suspended, and conse- 
quently far from that equilibrium which is alone consistent 
with an easy and regular motion. That this must be the case 
in this machine will, I hope, be sufficiently demonstrated 
from the annexed diagram. 

A B represents a screw covered over ; C D E one helix or 
revolution of it ; CD the side that is to ascend ; E D the 
descending side ; the point D the middle ; the horizontal 
line C F showing how much of the helix is filled with 
water, viz., of the ascending side, from C, the beginning of 
the helix, to D, the middle of it ; and, on the descending 
side, from D, the middle, to the point G, where the hori- 
zontal line cuts the helix. Now it is evident that this latter 
part D G is nothing near so large, nor, consequently, so 

176 PERPETxruM mobile; 

heavy as the other (ascending) part D C. And thus it must 
be in all the other revolutions which, as they are either more 
in number or larger in diameter, so much must the difficulty 
increase : from whence it appears that the outward stream 
must be of force sufficient to overcome the difference of 
weight in the ascending side of the screw, which can scarcely 
be effected by any contrivance of this sort ; for though the 
water-wheel might be made larger, yet the velocity of the 
motion which it could communicate to the screw would be 
inversely diminished. 

Most of the arguments I here make use of are to be found 
in a book of Dr. Wilkins', wherein he also mentions a con- 
trivance to multiply the same stream so as to apply it several 
times to the same screw ;* but even with this addition it is 

I send this letter with no other view than to prevent any 
persons making an experiment which must be attended with 
a disappointment so expensive ; nor, indeed, could any one 
speak with another view against an artist who seems so in- 
genious and so modest. Your Magazine, Mr. Urban, bring- 
ing forth to public view these efforts of invention, must be 
an incentive to enquiries of this nature, which may be of the 
greatest service to society. I cannot, therefore, better con- 
clude this letter than with the words of the author I above 
mentioned : — " However, the enquiry after it (the perpetual 
motion) cannot but deserve our endeavours, as being one of 
the most noble amongst all these mechanic subtelties. And, 
as in the fable of him who dug the vineyard for a hidden 
treasure, though he did not find the money, yet he thereby 
made the ground more fruitful ; so, though we do not attain 
to the effecting this particular, yet our searching after it may 
discover so many excellent inventions as shall abundantly 
recompence the labour of the enquiry." 

I am, Sir, &c., 

J. S.f 

• See Chapter I. 
t Vol. 33, 1763, p. 554. 


VII. — ^Alleged discovery by William Ashman. 

Horsley, Gloucestershire, Nov. 12, 1800. 
Mr. Urban, — ^I beg you to announce that Mr. William 
Ashman, hatter, of this place, has this day been with me anl 
asserted that he has discovered the perpetual motion, t.e., 
that he has invented, and actually possesses, a self-moving 
machine, which, when once set going, will continue so till 
worn out. He also says it is applicable to the greatest 
objects and most useful purposes. 1 have thought it my 
duty to communicate his assertion to Sir Joseph Banks. 


VIII. — Perpetual Motion by Galvanic agency. 

The perpetual motion, so long sought for in vain, is now 
sought through the medium of galvanism. A French physi- 
cian has in his cabinet two galvanic piles, 16 inches high, 
which alternately attract a pretty heavy beam. The con- 
tinual oscillation of the beam gives motion to a pendulum, 
which has never stopped for the last three years. The 
physician is now endeavouring to give to this movement an 
isochronism which may render it more useful. f 

IX. — ^An ancient attempt at Perpetual Motion. 

Mr. Urban, — In the curious preface of the learned Dr. 
Dee, prefixed to his Euclid, is the following remarkable 
passage in the article " Trochilike." If any of your ingenious 
correspondents can furnish an explanation of so odd a piece 
of mechanism, it will afford much satisfaction to 

A Constant Reader. 

*' By wheels, strange works and incredible are done, as 
will hereafter appear. A wonderful example of further 
possibility and present commodity was seen in my time, in 
a certain instrument, which by the inventor and artificer 
(before) was sold for twenty talents of gold, and then had (by 

• Vol. 70, part 2, 1800, p. 1128. 
t The "Abstract of -Foreign Occurrences," in the •* Gentleman's 
Magazine," vol. 87, part 2, 1817, p. 170. The same in vol. 88, part 1, 
p. 63. 

178 PERPETUITM mobile; 

misfortune) received some injury and hurt. And one Janellus 
of Cremona did mend the same, and presented it unto the 
Emperor Charles the Fift. Hieronymus Cardanus can be 
my witnesse, that therein was one wheel which moved, and 
that in such rate, that, in 7000 years, only his own period 
should be finished. A thing almost incredible : but how 
farre I keep me within my bounds, very many men (yet alive) 
can tel." 

Quere, Does not the doctor intimate this machine to be 
very ancient by the mode of fixing the price ? Talents have 
not, I believe, been used in reckoning by any moderns. I 
desire likewise to be informed whether he refers to the verbal 
or written testimony of Cardan ? If the latter, in what part 
of his works is an account of the same wonderful automaton 
to be found ?* 

X. — ^Dr. Kenrick and J. D. Muller make application for 

Dr. Kenrickf and Mr. John Dietrick Muller waited on the 
Attorney-General : the first with reference from the Court of 
Chancery on a petition for a patent for the exclusive benefit 
of a discovery of a mechanical principle, of self-motion, for 
the construction of machines which acquire a constant supply 
of power from the action of gravity on themselves only ; the 
latter, on a like reference, for the invention of a machine or 
engine constructed on self-moving principles. The Attorney- 
General, on hearing the merits, was pleased to make his 
report in favour of both parties. J 

XI. — ^A Magnetic Scheme suggested. 

Mr. Ukban, — How frequently do we find ourselves in the 
situation of the author in the farce of the " Critic," who 
having been discovered in a plagiarism, is driven to his shifts 

* Vol. 47, 1777, p. 441. 

f Probably the invention alluded to, but not described, in his lecture 
(Chapter III.) ; and elsewhere called ** The Rotator." 

J The ** Historical Chronicle," in the " Gentleman's Magazine," 
Tol. 49, 1779, p. 269, 


for an excuse, and at length observes, " that all he has to say- 
about it is, that Shakspeare and he had the same ideas, but 
that Shakspeare used them first" (or words to that effect). 
In some such light does a rude idea of mine stand just now. 
About two years ago, or not quite so long, I mentioned to a 
philosophical friend, who had frequently turned his attention 
towards the construction of a machine that would afford the 
long sought for desideration of perpetual motion, my opinion 
as to what I conceived must be selected as the first principle 
of any such action. I considered that whatever the power 
may be which shall keep up an action of that kind, would be 
found only in nature; and that, however art may assist 
towards the attainment of the end, it would, nevertheless, be 
found to be but secondary. I told him the power which I 
conceived was the one required; and he (on my writing to 
ask if he remembered the conversation) replies, that he per- 
fectly recollects it ; and that the magnet was that to which I 
alluded. Now, Mr. Urban, I am very far indeed from 
wishing to claim anything like discovery ; but I can only say, 
that the gentleman in whose behalf the interest of Parliament 
is about to be sought, " has had the same idea (so far as the 
magnet is concerned) with me, but has used it first." Mine 
being, however, but a theory, as I never have attempted to 
construct the machine I had in my mind, I should justly 
merit both scorn and ridicule, could I have for a moment the 
effrontery of putting my hypothesis in competition with the 
tried apparatus of the gentleman in question. Nevertheless, 
1 may venture to give them on paper, as they may, perhaps, 
assist in a small degree towards exciting the attention of 
more philosophical men than myself. I am well aware of the 
mechanical difiiculties that will present themselves, but still 
do think they may be overcome. The power of the magnet 
we know to be both attractive and repellent ; and as this 
power exists independent of human agency, I have always 
looked upon it as the most likely to supply the wants we are 
anxious to remove. I therefore suppose that a wheel, simple 
in its construction and like to a water-wheel, might be made 
to move on a diamond or agate pivot, having its weather 
boards (I know not if that be the technical term for the parts 
which dip into the stream or not) armed with iron; the 
magnet then to be applied nearly vertical and wheel put in 
motion, when it appeared to me that the attractive power 


180 PEKPETUUM mobile; 

acting on the extremities of the wheel, on one side of each of 
the boards and in an opposite power to the other, would 
continue to propel the wheel with a rotatory motion : the 
first impetus of course must be given by hand. Rude and 
untried as my plan is, I cannot but think it practicable, and 
trust that you will oblige me by giving it a place in yo\ir 
publication, as through such a channel of scientific informa- 
tion it may, perhaps, assist some to form new ideas, or to 
induce others to correct the erroneous one (if it be such) of 

Yours, &c., 


XII. — Spence's Motion by Magnetism. 

John Spence, an ingenious individual, residing at Lin- 
lithgow, in Scotland, has applied the magnetic power to the 
production of a perpetual motion. This person was in early 
life apprenticed to a shoemaker, but the natural bent of his 
genius ^or mechanics overcame every obstacle ; he got to be 
keeper of a steam-engine in a spinning factory at Glasgow, 
and after two years' study in this school, retired to his native 
place to pursue the shoemaking for bread ; and wheels, levers, 
&c., for the gratification of his own taste. The perpetual 
motion was an object worthy of such a devotee, and we find 
that he has invented a piece of mechanism which is doubly 
curious, from its own powers, and from the extraordinary diffi- 
culties in whose despite it has been accomplished. It is not 
easy to convey an idea of it without plates. A wooden beam, 
poised by the centre, has a piece of steel attached to one end 
of it, which is alternately drawn up by a piece of magnet 
placed above it, and down by another placed below it : as the 
end of the beam approaches the magnet, either above or 
below, the machine interjects a non-conducting substance, 
which suspends the attraction of the magnet approached, and 
allows the other to exert its powers. Thus the end of the 
beam continually ascends and descends betwixt the two 
magnets, without ever coming into contact with either ; the 
attractive power of each being suspended precisely at the 
moment of nearest approach. And as the magnetic attrac- 
tion is a permanently operating power, there appears to be no 

• Vol. 88, part 1, 1818, p. 391. 


limit to the continuance of the motion, but the endurance of 
the materials of the machine. The first machine made by 
Mr. Spence is very rude, and fashioned by his own hands, 
but he intends applying the principle to the motion of a 
time-piece. We trust this ingenious man will meet the 
encouragement he deserves — if not as the reward of his 
talents and perseverance, at least for the benefit of the com- 
munity, for it is from such sources that great national 
improvements are often derived.* 

XIII. — ^A Wheel moved by Magnetic influence. 

The piece of mechanism consists of only one small hori- 
zontal wheel, not exceeding 3-4ths of an inch in diameter, 
through the centre of which, on the plane of the wheel, passes 
a small magnetic bar, projecting about 3-4ths of an inch 
beyond the circumference of the wheel on the one side, and 
about 3-8ths of an inch on the other side. These projections 
are called the north and south poles. The axis of the wheel 
is of course perpendicular. Its operative power is magnetism ; 
its motion (probably owing to the friction inseparable from 
the long-continued action of the axis in its sockets) is 
somewhat irregular ; but on the whole it is a curiosity highly 
deserving attention. Owing to a sudden shock, its motion 
was stopped entirely the other day, but we have learned that 
it has been restored. About two years ago it was stopped by 
some unknown cause, but after a short pause recovered its 
motion of itself, without any additional impulse, and con- 
tinued its revolutions without intermission. In a room at 
Mr. Swan's, in Coppergate, which was excessively warm, and 
crowded with company, its action ceased altogether, after first 
becoming irregular and sickly. Query. — Might not this 
simple fact lead to some important issue on the question of 
the variation of the compass ? This we only know, that the 
magnetic influence was deadened by excessive heat, and 
resuscitated by more moderate atmosphere. — Yorkshire 

• Vol. 88, part 2, 1818, p. 156. 
t Vol. 91 (July to December, 1821), part 2, p. 628. 


In the " Annual Register," for 1774, is a " Description of 
the curious Time-piece in Mr. Cox*s Museum :" — 

Among other great works now introduced at Mr. Cox's 
Museum is an immense barometer, of so extraordinary a con- 
struction that by it the long sought for, and in all likelihood 
the only perpetual motion that ever will be discovered is 
obtained. The constant revolution of the wheels moving in 
vertical, horizontal, and other directions, is not only physi- 
cally produced, but the indication of time from an union of 
the philosophic with the mechanic principles is effected. 
Upon the dial, besides a minute and an hour hand, is another 
hand dividing the minute into 60 equal parts. These hands 
are motionless till affixed to the primary motion, so that the 
motion of the time-piece (as Mr. Cox in his descriptive 
inventory judiciously expresses it) is originated, continued, 
and perfected, by the philosophic principle through which it 
is (solely) actuated. 

The encouragement Mr. Cox has, for many years, given to 
men of genius, and the perseverance with which he has 
pursued the great line of utility, have not only given birth to 
productions that have astonished all Europe, as well as the 
eastern world, but have at last produced the wonderful 
machine above described. Several of the most eminent 
philosophers and mathematicians in this kingdom, who have 
examined it attentively, are of opinion that it will lead to 
farther improvements both in philosophy and mechanics ; 
and we hear that Mr. Cox intends to devote a part of every 
week to the gratification of such gentlemen in the scientific 
world as wish to be acquainted either with the construction 
or the mode of operation, the principles of action or the 
masterly execution of so capital a performance. This article 
is, we are informed, one of the prizes, and the work of many 
years, during which time numberless ineffectual and expen- 
sive trials were made, which perhaps would have damped any 
ardour but Mr. Cox's, and probably prevented the world from 
ever being benefited by so valuable a discovery. 

" I have seen and examined (says Mr. James Ferguson, in 
a letter dated Bolt-court, Fleet-street, Jan. 28) the above-de- 
scribed clock, which is kept constantly going, by the rising 
and falling of the quicksilver in a most extraordinary 
barometer ; and there is no danger of its ever failing to go ; 


for there is always such a quantity of moving power accumu- 
lated as would keep the clock going for a year, even if the 
barometer should be taken quite away from it. And, indeed, 
on examining the whole contrivance and construction, I 
must with truth say that it is the most ingenious piece of 
mechanism I ever saw in my life." 

For a further account of this extraordinary machine, see 
Mr. Cox's descriptive inventory of his museum.* 

Alleged discovery in France, by M. Dodemant : — 

A machine, capable of being set in motion, and pro- 
ducing a powerful effect, without either the intervention 
of any combustible, the action of any current of water or of 
air, or the exertion of animal strength, but possessing within 
itself the inexhaustible principle of motion, would doubtless 
prove of great utility to mankind. Such is that of which 
M. Dodemant, professor of mathematics at Lyons, announces 
himself the inventor. At his request, the prefect has directed 
two persons — M. Carron, chief engineer of the department, 
and M. MoUer, professor of natural philosophy — to examine 
this machine.f 

The following, referring to Geiser's imposition and Zam- 
boni's Column, is extracted from an article headed "The 
most important inventions and discoveries of our times," 
which in a note we are informed is " from the German of 
M. Poppe, of Tubingen :" — 

Many able mechanicians have been endeavouring to discover 
a perpetutmi mobile ; but many, who thought themselves on 
the point of succeeding, found their hopes deceived, and the 
phantom they had pursued eluded their grasp. The clock of 
M. Geiser, an admirable piece of mechanism, seemed to have 
solved this great problem in an ingenious and simple manner; 
but it deceived only for a time, not only the author of this 
essay, but many of the most excellent mathematicians ; for 
in this clock springs were concealed in the most artful manner, 
which were wound up at certain times, to aid the apparent 
power, which was not able alone to keep the machine in 

♦ The Annual Register, vol. 17, 1774, p. 248. 
t The Monthly Magazine, vol. 22, part 2, 1806, p. 67. 

184 PERPETUUM mobile; 

motion. Above a year ago, the author of this article dis- 
covered this trick, with several other lovers of the arts, who 
had joined with him to examine the machine ; and he soon 
after made his discovery public. 

The column of Zamboni, and the clock connected with it, 
by that artist, at Verona, which have now gone, without 
interruption, for above four years, as well as that of Ramis, 
at Munich (called the electric pendulum clock), are therefore, 
perhaps, the hest perpetuum mobile that we yet have. By this 
name we of course understand a machine which is able con- 
stantly to renew the cause of its motion by its own mechanism, 
and whose moving principle preserves its action without 
interruption, and without any new impulse, till it is stopped 
either by the wear of the machine or by violence. The 
invention of a machine possessed of this property is indeed 
very difficult, but not impossible, as Kastner Langsdorff and 
other mathematicians have demonstrated.* 

An imposition exposed in a letter from Mr. Thomas Gill, 
Chairman of the Committee of Mechanics in the Society for 
the Encouragement of Arts, &c. &c., of London, to Prof. 
Thomson, on a pretended Patent Self-moving Engine : — 
No. 125, Strand, London, Oct. 4, 1820. 

Sib, — My attention has lately been directed to a gross 
imposition upon the public in a pretended self-moving engine, 
which is now exhibiting in this metropolis, and which I 
think it highly proper to expose, and thereby, as far as lies 
in my power, prevent the delusion from being continued. 

It is announced in the following handbill : — 

" The newly-discovered patent self-existing engine for 
propelling ships at sea, carriages on the road, and all kinds 
of machinery, without the aid of horse, steam, water, or 
other power now in use. To be seen at work every day, 
Sundays excepted, from ten in the morning till six at night, 
at 32, Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly, Admittance, Two 

" N.B. — Gentlemen intending to have their machinery 
driven by the above power are desired to apply as above. If 
by letter, post-paid, 

* The New Moiv.hly Magazine, vol. 12, part 2 (July to December, 
1819), p. 162. 


1 found the machine to consist of a light brass wheel, about 
two feet in diameter, turning upon an horizontal axis, which 
is supported at each end in square blocks upon the tops of 
two brass columns, which are affixed to a mahogany table 
mounted upon a thick pillar of the same wood, with feet and 
rolling castors, so that it may be moved about, and thereby 
show that it has no communication through the floor of the 
room it is exhibited in. The thickness of the table is about 
an inch and a half, and the pillar is about 6 inches in 
diameter. Around the periphery of the wheel are fixed at 
equal distances, by screws, a number of small cylindrical 
rods or bars of metal, which are placed parallel to the axis of 
the wheel ; and at one end of the frame surrounding the 
wheel (and which frame is besides supported on two 
other brass columns) is a brass pillar, which has an arm 
or bracket, on which is fixed, near the periphery of the 
wheel, a ball, which the inventor pretends is formed of a 
new combination of metals, the composition of which, he 
says, possesses a new species of attraction, which is not 
magnetism, for the metal bars on the periphery of the 
wheel so as to draw each of them in succession continually 
towards it ; but as this attraction takes place equally above 
and below the ball, he says that he cuts it off below by 
means of a plate of a different composition of metals, which 
is placed beneath the ball, and thus he pretends that the 
wheel is continually turned round by this new attempt at 
reviving the long since exploded doctrine of attraction and 
repulsion, and with considerable force, and says that he has 
in the country a machine of two horses' power. On being 
asked if he had any pieces of the compound metals with him 
besides those on the machine, he said he had not, and would 
not suffer any person to possess them, lest they should take 
them to pieces, and thereby discover their composition. On 
being questioned as to his patfent, he said that in fact he had 
none, having merely entered a caveat to prevent any persons 
from taking out a patent for a similar machine without his 
being informed thereof. So much, then, for his pretended 
patent; and I verily believe that his new-invented power 
rests on no better a foundation, and that, in fact, his wheel is 
turned by spring mounted on a barrel, as usual in spring 
clocks and other pieces of mechanism, and which is concealed 
either in the substance of the table itself or in the thic 

186 PEEPETXJUM mobile; 

pillar which supports it, the barrel having a ring of teeth 
around it, working in a pinion affixed upon the lower end of 
an upright axis concealed in one of the brass columns that 
support the horizontal axis of the wheel, and having at its 
upper end another pinion which works into a small toothed 
contrate wheel fixed on the end of the horizontal axis, but 
also concealed in the brass block on the top of the column, 
and in another pillar which is screwed upon the top of the* 
block, and is quite large enough to contain it, and thus gives 
motion to the wheel ; and, indeed, the artifice is but very 
clumsily concealed. I should have added that the brass 
pillar last mentioned supports an upright axis having a pinion 
at its lower end, which is driven by a contrate wheel on the 
horizontal axis of the wheel, and which upright axis has at 
the top of it a fly with wings to regulate the motion of the 
machine, as in other spring movements. 

This barefaced imposition reminds me of another which 
was practised upon the public several years since, and was 
detected, and very properly exposed, by my friend Mr. J. T. 
Hawkins, which put an end to the trick : this consisted of 
what was said to be a self-moving pendulum, and beneath 
the bottle of it a ball was placed, out of which, as the 
exhibitor pretended, an elastic fluid was continually proceed- 
ing, which gave an impulse to the ball as it passed over it. 
Mr. Hawkins, however, foimd that the impulse was, in fact, 
given to the pendulum at its upper end ; and that the axis on 
which it hung communicated with another pendulum which 
was kept in motion by a weight or other maintaining power ; 
for in like manner the real cause of the wheel's motion in 
this new imposition is concealed, and the attention of the 
spectator is directed to another pretended first mover, and 
which is besides attended with the additional advantage of 
afibrding him matter for wonder, which constitutes the chief 
pleasure of the multitude, and contributes greatly to the 
profit of the exhibition. 

I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, 

Thomas Gill.* 

• Annals of Philosophy. By Thomas Thomson, M.D. 8vo. Vol. 16, 
1820, p. 373. 

Mr. G., Editor of the Technical Repository, referred to in Chapter VI II. 
of the present work. 


In the notice given of " Lectures delivered in the Theatre 
of the Royal Institution," the following occurs, in mentioning 
" Dr. Young* s Lectures on Mechanics :" — 

The doctrines of rotatory power and preponderance were 
considered after those of equilibrium ; the apparatus intended 
for illustrating the effects of rotatory power was not com- 
pleted ; but an experiment was made, in a subsequent lecture, 
in confirmation of the propositions respecting the most 
advantageous disposition of power in machines. Six equal 
weights were attached to as many threads, and each pair of 
threads was passed in opposite directions round the different 
portions of three pullies. The first pulley was so formed 
that its larger portion was to its smaller as 3 to 2; the second 
was in the ratio of 6 to 2, and the third as 4 to 1 ; 
and the three weights, of which the threads were coiled 
round the smaller part of each pulley, being suffered to rise 
at the same instant, the middle weight rose evidently much 
faster than either of the others. Dr. Young, however, 
remarked that the greatest velocity would not in all cases be 
practically desirable, on account of the injury that the 
machinery would sustain from the shock in stopping it. A 
model of a wheel with moveable weights, for producing 
perpetual motion, was employed for showing the fallacy of all 
projects of this kind, and it was observed that a general 
demonstration of its insufficiency might be deduced from the 
properties of the centre of gravity.* 

In " (Euvres Philosophiques " of M. 's Gravesande, we find 
his letter to Sir Isaac Newton, already given (Chapter II.), 
and the following — 

Remarks touching Perpetual Motion, 

About eight months ago, by order of His Serene High- 
ness the Landgrave of Hesse, I was called upon to examine 
the effects of a machine at Cassel, which the inventor 
(Orffyreus) professed to be a perpetual motion. He care- 
fully hid its interior, requiring a certain sum when the 

♦ Journals of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, vol. 1, 8vo., 
1802, p. 105. 


machine should have been first fully examined and recognised 
by mathematicians to be, what in mechanics is called a 
perpetual motion. I was so forcibly struck by what I saw 
and what 1 heard of it, as to be unable to call it in question. 
I was obliged to look on the machine as one of the most 
beautiful inventions in mechanics that I had ever known, and 
had only to consider the truth of the effects before me. 
I wrote to Mr. Newton all I had observed about it, which 
having been printed, fault has been found with what I 
advance, saying : — " that I do not believe perpetual motion to 
be a contradiction ;" — " that the demonstrations given on its 
impossibility do not appear to me as applicable to all 
machines ;" — and, lastly, " that I find it probable that the 
machine at Cassel may be a perpetual motion." All the 
difficulty turns on the first of these remarks ; if that were 
proved, the remaining ones would not embarrass me much ; 
and has, no doubt, been found too bold to venture on without 
proof. In this I quite agree, and I should not have 
committed the fault had my letter been written for the public. 
I was so little inclined to advance a proposition without 
proof, that I have never yet declared what I thought on 
perpetual motion, foreseeing the judgment that all mathema- 
ticians must pass on any one who should turn aside from the 
generally received opinions. What I considered I owed to 
truth, after having seen the machine at Cassel, induced me to 
give Mr. Newton my opinion on it, and at the same time to 
say what I thought of the proofs of the impossibility of 
perpetual motion. I must now justify myself before the 

We must, however, first establish the state of the question. 
As no foreign agent must be employed, it will be seen that a 
clock, in whatever way woimd up, would not be perpetual 
motion. It may be what mathematicians have taught under 
the term of collision, on the power of which they are divided 
in opinion. All agree that the force of collision is pro- 
portionate to the mass. We must admit the possibility 
of perpetual motion in all machines which would have the 
principle of their movement in the collision of bodies. The 
impossibility of perpetual motion has not been shown in all 
possible cases, affected by collision. And the laws of nature 
are not yet well enough known to allow our drawing a 
conclusion that perpetual motion is contrary to these laws. 


As it is possible for a body to rise quicker than it descends, 
on this I found my proof of the possibility of perpetual 

Conceive a body falling from one foot high, losing all its 
movement by the shock ; suppose it to fall four times simi- 
larly, it would have fallen from the height of four feet, and the 
four shocks would be equal to the force that the gravity com- 
mimicated to the body during the four moments of its fall. 
But it is known that the body could mount in two of these 
moments to the height of four feet ; consequently, the force of 
two of these four shocks suffices to make it rise, and the two 
other shocks may be employed to move a machine : so the 
movement wbuld be continued perpetually by the falls reite- 
rated of the same body, which at each revolution would gain 
the force of two shocks. The gain of the force would be 
greater at each revolution, if the number of shocks were 
increased in the descent. Thus, there is in nature an 
augmentation of strength, which is sufficient to support the 
opinion that perpetual motion is not a contradiction — ^nay, 
that it is even possible. 

This possibility will appear still clearer, if attention is paid, 
to the property of springs, that they reboimd with the same 
force that boimd them. This matter was disputed between 
MM. Leibnitz and Papin, in the " Actes de Leipsic," 
respecting whether the force of a body was proportionate 
to its speed ; if admitted, Leibnitz considered perpetual 
motion would be the consequence ; Papin admitted the 
validity of the consequence, but doubted the proposition. 

The only means of replying to the arguments brought 
forward on the possibility of perpetual motion, is to deny 
with M. Leibnitz the principle on which they are founded. 

I should not be able to persuade myself that it is a con- 
tradiction to construct a machine which would have in itself 
the principle of the augmentation of power, in consequence 
of the laws of nature. These laws are so little known to us, 
and there is little appearance that they will ever be 
discovered sufficiently for us to arrive at such a conclusion. 
To me it seems, that these laws, on the contrary, ought 
to make us look upon such a machine as very possible, 
although it may never be accomplished by human art. 

The question of the possibility or impossibility of perpetual 
motion, then, seems to me of little consequence ; but it is 

190 PERPETUUM mobile; 

desirable that the strong persuasion that mathematicians have 
regarding its impossibility should not prevent their paying 
serious attention to such a machine as the astonishing wheel 
of Cassel ; a wheel having the principle of movement in- 
ternal, and which is moved by the slightest effort, turning 
either way without any necessity to reverse the moving power ; 
lastly, after making some millions of surprisingly rapid 
turns, continues its motion until stopped by a strong effort of 
the arm. It' appears to me that such a machine merits some 
praise, even should it not satisfy all its inventor's representa- 
tions. If it is perpetual motion, he deserves the recompense 
he asks ; and if not, the public may here discover a beautiful 

[For full details, see Appendix F.] 

The resolution of the Royal Academy of Sciences in 
Paris not to entertain communications relating to Perpetual 
Motion, was passed in 1775. They say : — 

This year the Academy has passed the resolution not 
to examine any solution of problems on the following sub- 
jects : — 

The duplication of the cube, the trisection of the angle, 
the quadrature of the circle, or any machine announced 
as showing perpetual motion. 

We believe ourselves bound to account for the motives 
which have led to this determination. 


The construction of a perpetual motion is absolutely 
impossible. If even friction and resistance from the middle 
did not eventually destroy the effect of the first motive 
power, that power cannot produce an effect equal to 
its cause ; if, then, it is desired that the effect of a complete 
power should act continually, the effect must be infinitely 
small in a given time. If the friction and resistance be 
subtracted, the first motion given to a body will always 
continue ; but it will not act in regard to other bodies, 
and the only perpetual motion possible in this hypothesis 

• (Euvres Philosophiques et Mathematiques de Mr. G. J, *s Gravesande. 
AiViSlerdam, 1774. 2 vols., 4to. (Vol 1, p. 305.) 


(which could not exist in nature) would he ahsolutely useless 
in carrying out the ohject proposed by the constructors 
of these perpetual motion machines. The drawback to these 
Iresearches is their being exceedingly expensive, and has 
ruined more than one family ; often mechanics, who could 
have rendered great services to the public, have wasted their 
means, time, and genius. 

Such are the principal motives that have dictated tie 
determination of the Academy. In stating that they will not 
occupy themselves any longer with these subjects, they only 
declare their opinion of the complete uselessness of the labour 
of those who so occupy themselves. It has often been said, 
that in seeking to solve chimerical problems, many useful 
truths have been found; an opinion which originated in 
a time when the proper method of discovering the truth was 
unknown, which in the present day is well known. It is more 
than probable that the right manner of discovering these 
truths is to search for them. But the quadrature of the 
circle is the only rejected problem of the Academy which 
could give rise to any useful research ; and, if a geometrician 
should find it out, the determination of the Academy would 
only enhance his merit, as it would show the opinion that 
geometricians have of the difficulty, not to say insolubility, of 
the problem.* 

* Histoire de l*Acad^mie Koyale des Sciences, 1775. Paris, 1778. 4to* 
Pp. 61-66. 

192 PERPETUUM mobile; 



Great similarity in style and matter will be observed in each 
of these articles, and the paucity of information they generally 
afford is evidence how little has hitherto been known respecting 
what had been done and written on the subject. All speak in 
the most vague and general terms of the amount of attention 
devoted to its pursuit, — all claim to demonstrate its impossi- 
bility, either on the authority of M. de la Hire, or on one or 
two examples. Well has M. 's Gravesande observed on the in- 
sufficiency of arguments against the possibility of a perpetual 
motion to meet all known, much less all possible, cases. A 
false argument, or a weak one, is worse than useless, for the 
opinionated are only thereby confirmed in erroneous theories. 

l.-^In the edition of Rees' Cyclopaedia for 1819, we 
read : — 

Perpetual Motion, in mechanics, a motion which is sup- 
plied and renewed from itself without any external cause ; or 
it is an iminterrupted communication of the same degree of 
motion from one part of matter to another, in a circle or 
other curve returning into itself, so that the same momentum 
still returns imdiminished upon the first mover. 

This celebrated problem of a perpetual motion consists in 
the inventing of a machine which has the principle of its 
motion within itself. M. de la Hire has demonstrated the 
impossibility of any such machine, and finds that it amounts 
to this, viz., to find a body which is both heavier and lighter 
at the same time ; or to find a body which is heavier than 

To find a perpetual motion, or to construct aii engine, &c., 
which shall have such a motion, is a famous problem that has 


employed the mathematicians of two thousand years ; though 
none, perhaps, have prosecuted it with attention and earnest- 
ness equal to those of the present age. 

Infinite are the schemes, designs, plans, engines, wheels, 
&c., to which this longed-for perpetual motion has given 
birth : it were as endless as impertinent to give a detail of 
them all. 

In effect, there seems but little in nature to countenance 
all this assiduity and expectation: among all the laws of 
matter and motion, we know of none yet which seems to 
furnish any principle or foundation for such an effect. 

Action and re-action are allowed to be ever equal, and 
a body which gives any quantity of motion to another always 
loses just so much of its own ; but, under the present state 
of things, the resistance of the air, the friction of the parts of 
machines, &c., do necessarily retard every motion. 

To keep the motion constant, therefore, either : 

First, there must be a supply from some foreign cause, 
which in a perpetual motion is excluded ; 

Or, secondly, all resistance from the friction of the parts 
of matter must be removed, which necessarily implies a 
change in the nature of things.* 

For, by the second law of nature, the changes made in the 
motions of bodies are always proportional to the impressed 
moving force, and are produced in the same direction with it ; 
no motion, then, can be communicated to any engine, greater 
than that of the first force impressed. 

But, on our earth, all motion is performed in a resisting 
medium, and must, therefore, of necessity be retarded ; con- 
sequently, a considerable quantity of its motion will be spent 
on the medium. 

Nor is there any engine or machine in which all friction 
can be avoided ; there being in nature no such thing as 
exact smoothness or perfect congruity, — the manner of the 
cohesion of the parts of bodies, the small proportion the 
solid matter bears to the vacmties between them, and the 
nature of those constituent particles, not admitting it. This 
friction, therefore, will also in time sensibly diminish the 
impressed or communicated force ; so that a perpetual motion 

* So far, this is a mere repetition from Diderot and D'Alembert's 
French Encyclopaedia, 1765, folio. 

194 PEBPETuiTM mobile; 

can never follow, unless the communicated force be so much 
greater than the generating force as to recompense the 
diminution made therein by all these causes: but nil dat 
quod non hahet ; and the generating force cannot communi- 
cate a greater degree of motion than it hath itself. 

Or, thirdly and lastly, there must be some method of 
gaining a force equivalent to what is lost, by the artful dis- 
position and combination of mechanic powers ; to which last 
point, then, all endeavours are to be directed : but how, or 
by what means, such force should be gained, is still a mystery. 

The multiplication of powers or forces, it is certain, avails 
nought ; for what is gained in power is still lost in time, so 
that the quantity of motion still remains the same. This is 
an inviolable law of nature, by which nothing is left to art, 
but the choice of the several combinations that may produce 
the same effect. 

Although it is allowed that, by the resolutions of force, 
there is a gain or increase of the absolute quantity of force, 
as the two forces in the sides of the parallelogram taken 
together exceed the force in the diagonal which is resolved 
into them, yet you cannot proceed resolving motion in infinitum 
by any machine whatsoever; but those you have resolved 
must be again compounded, in order to make a continual 
movement, and the gain obtained by the resolution will be 
lost again by the composition. In like manner, if you sup- 
pose two bodies to be perfectly elastic, and that the lesser 
body strikes the other at rest, there will be an increase of the 
absolute quantity of force, because the striking body will be 
reflected ; but if you suppose them both to turn roimd any 
centre, after the stroke, so as to meet again, this increase of 
force will be lost, and their motion will be reduced to its first 
quantity. Such a gain, therefore, of force, as must be after- 
wards lost in the actions of the bodies, can never produce a 
perpetual movement. There are various ways, besides these, 
by which absolute force may be gained ; but since there is 
always an equal gain in opposite directions, and no increase 
obtained in the same direction, in the circle of actions neces- 
sary to make a perpetual movement this gain must be 
presently lost, and not serve for the necessary expense of 
force employed in overcoming friction and the resistance of 
the medium. We may observe, therefore, that, though it 
could be shewn that in an infinite nimiber of bodies, or in an 



infinite machine, there could be a gain of force for ever, and 
a motion continued to infinity, it does not follow that a per- 
petual movement can be made. That which was proposed 
by M. Leibnitz, in August, 1690, in the " Leipsic Acts," as 
a consequence of the common estimation of the forces of 
bodies in motion, is of this kind, and, for this and other 
reasons, ought to be rejected. 

The possibility of a perpetual motion has been urged from 
the following specious argument : — ^Let the height A B be 

(Fig. 11, pi. 34.) 
^^^^ A 

^Ap , 

■<dJ -u- 


^ 1 

^S K.V 7 

divided into four equal parts, A C, C D, D E, E B. Suppose 
the body A to acquire, by the descent A C, a velocity as 1, 
and this motion, by any contrivance, to be transmitted to an 
equal body B ; then let the body A, by an equal descent C D, 
acquire another degree of motion as 1, to be transmitted 
likewise to the same body B, which in this manner is sup- 
posed to acquire a motion as 2, that is sufficient to carry it 
upwards from B to A ; and because there yet remain the 
motions which A acquires by the descents D E and E B, that 
may be sufficient to keep an engine in motion, while B and A 
ascend and descend by turns, it is hence concluded that a 
sufficient gain of force may be obtained in this manner, so as 
to produce a perpetual movement. But it should be con- 
sidered that two equal successive impulses, acting upon the 
same body, will not produce a motion in it double of that 
which would be generated by the first impulse ; because the 


second impulse has necessarily a less effect upon the body 
which is already in motion than the first impulse which acted 
upon it while at rest. In like manner, if there is a third and 
fourth impulse, the third will have less effect than the second, 
and the fourth less than the third. Hence it appears that a 
motion as 2, in the preceding case, cannot be produced in B 
by the two successive impulses transmitted from A, each of 
which is as 1. — Maclaurin's View, &c., book ii., c. 3. (See 
Orffyreus's Wheel.) * 

In the same Cyclopaedia appears the following accoimt of 
Orffyreus's celebrated Wheel : — 

Orfiyreus's Wheel, in mechanics, is a machine so called 
from its inventor, which he imagined to be a perpetual 
motion. This machine, according to the accoimt given of it 
by M. 's Gravesande, in his " (Euvres Philosophiques," pub- 
lished by Allamand, Amst., 1774, consisted of a large circular 
wheel, or rather drum, twelve feet in diameter and fourteen 
inches in depth, and very light, as it was formed of an 
assemblage of deals, the intervals between which were 
covered with waxed cloth, in order to conceal the interior 
parts of it. The two extremities of an iron axis, on which it 
turned, rested on two supports. On giving the wheel a 
slight impulse in either direction, its motion was gradually 
accelerated ; so that after two or three revolutions it acquired 
so great a velocity as to make twenty-five or twenty-six turns 
in a minute. This rapid motion it actually preserved during 
the space of two months, in the chamber of the Landgrave 
of Hesse, the door of which was kept locked, and sealed with 
the Landgrave's own seal. At the end of that time it 
was stopped, to prevent the wear of the materials. The 
professor, who had been an eye-witness to these circum- 
stances, examined all the external parts of it, and was 
convinced that there could not be any communication between 
it and any neighbouring room. Orffyreus, however, was so 
incensed, that he broke the machine in pieces, and wrote on 
the wall, that it was the impertinent curiosity of Professor 
's Gravesande which made him take this step. The Prince 

• The Cyclopaedia; or, Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and 
Literature. By Abraham Rees, D.D., F.R.S., &c. Vol. 25. 1819. 

The first part of this article has incorporated in it that on " Motion, 
Perpetual," in Hatton's Math. Diet, 4to., 1795. 


of Hesse, who had seen the interior parts of this wheel, being 
asked by 's Gravesande, whether, after it had been in motion 
some time, there had been any change observable in it, 
or whether it contained any pieces that indicated fraud 
or deception, answered both questions in the negative, and 
declared that the machine was of a very simple construction.* 

2. — In the " Encyclopaedia Britannica," we read, imder 
the head " Perpetual Movement," that — 

Many have attempted to find a perpetual movement, but 
without success ; and there is reason to think, froni the 
principles of mechanics, that such a movement is impossible ; 
for though in many cases of bodies acting upon one another, 
there is a gain of absolute motion, yet the gain is always 
equal in opposite directions, so that the quantity of direct 
motion is never increased. 

To make a perpetual movement, it appears necessary that 
a certain system of bodies, of a determined number and 
quantity, should move in a certain space for ever, and in 
a certain way and manner ; and for this there must be 
a series of actions returning in a circle, otherwise the move- 
ment will not be perpetual ; so that any action by which the 
absolute quantity of force is increased, of which there are 
several sorts, must have its corresponding counter-action, by 
which the gain is destroyed and the quantity of force restored 
to its first state. 

Thus, by these actions, there will never be any gain of 
direct forde to overcome the friction and resistance of the 
medium, so that every motion being diminished by these 
resistances, they must at length languish and cease. f 

3. — ^In Chambers's " Cyclopaedia," 1738, Perpetual Motion, 
in mechanics, is defined — 

A motion which is supplied and renewed from itself, &c., 
&c., &c. (See Motion.) 

Infinite are the schemes, designs, &c., &c., &c. Nor does 

• Rees' Cyclopaedia, vol. 26, 1819. 
This may have been copied from Hutton's Math. Diet., 4tc., 1795. 
t Encyclopaedia Britannica, 18 vols., 4tq., 1797. 
The above is copied verbatim into the English EncyclopsBdia, 10 vols., 
4to., 1802 ; aru " Movement, Perpetual.'* 


any of them deserve particular mention, since they have 
all equally proved abortive. * * * * 

In effect, there seems but little in nature to countenance all 
this assiduity, &c., &c., &c. (See Nature.) 

Action and re-action are allowed to be ever equal, &c., &c. 
(See Resistance.) 

Also see Matter and Friction; Communication and Per- 
cussion; Medium. 

The multiplication of powers or forces, it is certain, avaUs 
nought ; for what is gained in power is still lost in time, 
so that the quantity of motion still remains the same. 

All mechanics cannot make a little power equal or 
superior to a larger; and wherever a less power is found 
in equilibrio with a larger, v. gr, 25 poimds with 100, it 
is a kind of deception of the sense : the equilibrium is not 
strictly between 100 and 25, but between lOO pounds and 
25 moving, or disposed to move, four times as fast as the 100. 

To consider the weights, 100 and 25, as fixed and immove- 
able, the 25 may seem, somehow, raised beyond themselves, 
which is one of the sham-miracles of mechanics, that has 
deceived millions, but which is easily dissipated by con- 
sidering the four degrees of velocity which are to be given 
to the 25 poimds, and which require a force equal to the 
excess of 100 above 25 poimds. 

A power of 10 pounds moved with ten times the velocity of 
the 100 pounds, would have equalled them in the like 
manner, and the same may be said of all the possible products 
equal to 100. But, in fine, there must still be 100 pounds 
of power on each side, what way soever they be taken, 
whether in the matter or the velocity. 

This is an inviolable law of nature, by which nothing 
is left to art, but the choice of the several combinations that 
may produce the same effect. (See Laws of Nature.)* 

4. — In Stone's " Mathematical Dictionary," we read of 
Perpetual Motion, that — 

By this term ought to be meant an uninterrupted communi- 
cation of the same degree of motion from one part of 

• Cyclopaedia ; or, an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences. By 
E. Chambers, F.R S. 2 vols., folio, 1738. Vol. 2; art. "Motion, 
Perpetual, ' ' and * * Machine. ' ' 


matter to another, in a circle (or such-like curve returning 
into itself), so that the same quantity of matter shall return 
perpetually undiminished upon the first mover : and perhaps, 
if men had rightly imderstood that this is the true meaning 
of a perpetual motion, abundance of expence, both of money 
and reputation, might have been saved by the vain pretenders 
to this piece of impossible mechanism. 

1. When a wheel, or other machine, once set in motion, 
will, without additional actions on it, continue to move with 
the same, or a greater, velocity with which it first moved, as 
long as the matter of which it consists remains the same ; 
such a motion, by mechanics, is called perpetual. 

2. But since bodies have not in themselves power to move 
themselves, and therefore have not power to increase or 
diminish a motion given them; if they are not acted on 
by other bodies, they will continue so to move, and with the 
same velocity : but all revolving bodies suffer friction with 
those by which they are suspended; and the velocities 
of those bodies are therefore continually lessened by the 
action of friction. Therefore, a wheel, or other machine, set 
in motion without additional actions on it, will not continue to 
move with the same velocity, tho' the matter of which 
it consists remains the same; but, on the contrary, this 
velocity will be continually diminished. 

3. Moreover, since, by numberless experiments, the most 
polished or burnish' d bodies sliding over one another, lose 
all the motion which hath been given them, and in a short 
time ; therefore every wheel, or any other such machine, will, 
in a short time, lose its motion. 

4. Hence it appears, that the perpetual motion is not to be 
expected by a single wheel. 

5. And if any contrivance causes one part of a wheel 
to preponderate another; whatsoever is gained by the 
descent of that preponderating part will be lost in its 
ascent; and then the wheel thus loaded, as soon as the 
friction hath destroyed the motion given it, will for awhile 
vibrate like other pedulous bodies, and then at last stand 
still. Consequently, no perpetual motion by wheel-work.* 

• A New Mathematical Dictionary. By E. Stone, F.R.S. Second 
edition, 1 vol., 8vo., 1743. 


5. — In a " Dictionary of Mechanical Science/* we are 
informed that — 

Perpetual Motion is that which possesses in itself the 
principle of motion ; and consequentiy, since every body in 
nature, when in motion, once begim, would be perpetual, but 
for the operation of some external causes — such are those of 
friction, resistance, &c. ; and since it is also a known principle 
in mechanics that no absolute power can be gained by any 
combination of machinery, except there being at the same 
time an equal gain in an opposite direction ; but that, on the 
contrary, there must necessarily be some lost from the above 
causes, it follows that a perpetual motion can never take place 
from any purely mechanical combination ; yet this is a problem 
which has engaged the attention of many ingenious men, 
from the earliest period to the present time, though it has but 
seldom been attempted by men of science, since the true laws 
of mechanics have been so well established. 

An idea of a mechanical contrivance to work without inter- 
mission, till its parts are destroyed by friction [is given in an 
engraving of a water-wheel working a pump to supply itself]. 
It was supposed that the water which had fallen upon the 
wheel into the reservoir would be raised by means of the 
pump, fall through the horizontal pipe, and so produce a 
continued rotatory motion. Experience has, however, proved 
its inutility. The machine cannot furnish power enough 
to perpetuate its motion.* 

6. — ^Another popular Scientific Dictionary states that — 
Perpetual Motion is that which possesses within itseK the 
principle of motion, and that of sufficient force to overcome 
the friction of its parts. In nature there are numerous per- 
petual motions, such as the revolution of the heavenly bodies, 
the tides, organic and inorganic changes, vital functions, &c. 
Artificial or mechanical perpetual motion has never yet been 
attained, though the subject has occupied the attention of the 
ingenious for many ages, the nearest approach to it being, 
perhaps, the dry electrical pile of De Luc.f 

• Dictionary of Mechanical Science. 4to., pp. 1066. Fisher and Co, 
The Preface and Introduction are by ** A. J. Wyke House, Middlesex, 
June, 1827." 

t The Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Manufactures. By G. Francis, 
F.L.S. 8vo. 1842. 


7. — Perpetual Motion, in Ogilvie*8 excellent ** Imperial 
Dictionary," is defined as — 

That which generates a power of continuing itself for ever 
or indefinitely, by means of mechanism or some application 
of the force of gravity, not yet discovered. The celebrated 
problem of a perpetual motion consists in the inventing of a 
machine which shall have the principle of its motion within 
itself, and numberless schemes have been proposed for its 
solution ; but unless friction and the resistance of the air, 
which necessarily retard, and finally stop, the motions of 
machines, could be removed, a perpetual motion must be 
impossible from any pure mechanical combination. The 
problem, when strictly investigated, amounts to this — namely, 
to find a body which is both heavier and lighter at the same 
time, or to find a body which is heavier than itself. In 
speaking of the perpetual motion, it is to be understood that 
from among the forces by which motion may be produced we 
are to exclude not only air and water, but other agents — as 
heat, atmospheric changes, &c. The only admissible agents 
are the inertia of matter and its attractive forces, which may 
all be considered of the same kind as gravitation. The planets 
in their orbits, and in their rotations on their axes, furnish 
instances of perpetual motion.* 

8. — ^In the "Dictionary of Science and Literature," by 
Professor Brande and Dr. Cauvin, appears the following : — 

Perpetual Motion, in mechanics, a machine which, when 
set in motion, would continue to move for ever, or at least 
until destroyed by the friction of the parts, without the aid 
of any exterior cause. The discovery of the perpetual motion 
has always been a celebrated problem in mechanics, on which 
many ingenious, though in general ill-instructed, persons 
have consumed their time ; but all the labour bestowed on it 
has proved abortive. In fact, its impossibility has been 
so fully demonstrated from the known laws of matter, that it 
is rather an insult than a praise to say of any one that 
he has occupied himself with the research. Nevertheless, 

• The Imperial Dictionary, Endish, Technological, and Scientific. 
Edited by John Ogiivie, LL.D. Glasgow, 18^4. Royal 8vo. 


the pursuit of the chimera has been the cause of many useful 

In speaking of the perpetual motion, it is to be understood 
that from among the forces by which motion may be pro- 
duced we are to exclude not only air and water, but other 
natural agents — as heat, atmospheric changes, &c. The only 
admissible agents are the inertia of matter and its attractive 
forces, which may all be considered of the same kind as 

It is an admitted principle in philosophy, that action and 
re-action are equal ; that when motion is communicated from 
one body to another, the first loses just as much as is gained 
by the second. But every moving body is continually 
retarded by two passive forces, the resistance of the air and 
friction. In order, therefore, that motion may be continual 
without diminution, one of two things is necessary, — either 
that it be maintained by an extra force (in which case it 
would cease to be what we imderstand by a perpetual 
motion) ; or that the resistance of the air and friction be 
annihilated, which is physically impossible. The motion 
cannot be perpetuated till these retarding forces are com- 
pensated, and they can only be compensated by an exterior 
force ; for the force communicated to any body cannot be 
greater that the generating force, and this is only sufficient 
to continue the same quality of motion when there is no 
resistance. To find the fperpetual motion is, therefore, a 
proposition equivalent to this, — ^to find a force (either an 
attractive force like that of gravitation or magnetism, or an 
elastic force, that of a spring, for example) greater than itself. 

But it may be argued that by some arrangement or combi- 
nation of mechanical powers a force may be gained equal to 
that which is lost in overcoming friction and atmospheric 
resistance. This notion at first mention appears plausible, 
and is, in'fact,*that by which most speculators have been led 
astray. It is, however, entirely erroneous ; for by no multi- 
plication of forces or powers by mechanical agents, can the 
quantity of motion be increased. Whatever is gained in 
power is lost in time ; the quantity of motion transmitted by 
the machine remains unaltered.* 

• The entire'of the foregoing, ending at this paragraph, appears also in 
Appletou's Dictirnary of Machines, Mechanics, Engine Work, and 
Engineering, New York, 1858. 2 vols., royal Svo. 


Although thef* perpetual motion has been demonstrated 
again and again to be impossible on any known principle of 
mechanics, projectors have not thereby been deterred from 
the pursuit. Li 1775, the Academy of Sciences at Paris 
resolved not to consider or admit into their Memoirs any 
future proposal for the discovery of the perpetual motion ; 
yet such appears to be the seductive nature of the subject 
that innumerable schemes, designs, and projects for accom- 
plishing it have since been, and even to the present time 
continue to be, put forward ; and there are very recent 
instances of men of no common attainments and reputation, 
and well versed, moreover, in the principles of mechanical 
science, who have been deceived by the ingenious frauds of 
charlatans and impostors into a belief of its actual discovery. 
Montucla, " Hist, des Math.," tome iii., p. 813 ; " Reper- 
tory of Arts,"* vols. vii. and xiv. ; "London Journal of 
Arts,"t ^^ay, 1827 ; Airy, " Trans, of the Cambridge Phil. 
Soc," vol. iii., part 2 ; J Poppe, " Wimder der Mechanik," 
1832 ; and various papers in the earlier volumes of the 
" Memoires de TAcademie des Sciences," and the " Philo- 
sophical Transactions.") § 

9. — The American Encyclopaedia defines Perpetual Motion 
as — 

A motion which is supplied and renewed from itself, without 
the intervention of external causes. The problem of a 
perpetual motion consists in the inventing of a machine which 
has the principle of its motion within itself; and numberless 
schemes have been proposed for its solution. The difficulty 
is, that the resistance of the air, the friction of the parts 
of the machine, &c., necessarily retard, and finally stop, the 
motions of machines, and therefore seem to render perpetual 

• The " Repertory," vol. 7, refers to the Patent of Conradus Shiviers, 
1790 (but should be Schwiers — see his Patent, Chapter III.), and vol. 14 
to Motion from the Rising and Falling of the Tide. 

t The article in the "London Journal,*' very flippantly written, affects 
to criticise the Patent of Sir William Congreve, 1827. (See Chapter XI.) 

t Airy*8 paper relates to the Pendulum, and in no way to Perpetual 

§ A Dictionary of Science, Literature, and Art. By W. T. Brande,, &c., and Joseph Cauvin, M.D., &c. London, 1852. 8vo. 

204: PERPETUUM mobile; 

motion an impossibility. Attempts have recently been mad^ 
to produce a perpetuum mobile by means of galvanism: a 
metallic bar being placed between two dry galvanic columns, 
is alternately attracted by each column.* 

10. — The following is a translation of an article from a 
French Encyclopaedia of 1765, printed in Switzerland, and 
has been embodied in most of our modern Encyclopaedias : — 

Perpetual Motion is a movement which is maintained and 
renewed from itself, without any external cause. Or it is an 
uninterrupted communication of the same degree of motion 
which passes from one part of matter to another. In order 
to find perpetual motion, a machine must be constructed 
having such a movement. This has been the famous 
problem which has exercised the minds of mathematicigms 
for 2,000 years. 

We have an infinite number of designs, figures, plans, 
machines, and wheels, &c., which are the fruits of the efforts 
made to resolve this problem. It would be useless here to 
give the details of any of these projects, which are scarce 
worth mentioning, for they have all failed. It is now more 
an insult than praise to say of any one that they are searching 
for perpetual motion. The inutility of the efforts that have 
been made to find it, gives a very imfavourable idea of those 
who occupy themselves in this research. Indeed, it appears 
that we dare scarcely hope to find it. Amongst the properties 
of matter and motion, we know of none that has the principle 
of such an effect. 

It is agreed that the action and re-action must be equal, that 
one body that gives motion to another body must lose as 
much motion as it communicates. The resistance of the air 
and friction must necessarily retard that motion : thus, in 
order that motion may continue always, it will be necessary 
that it should be supplied from an exterior cause, — this 
would then no longer be what is required as perpetual 
motion ; or that all resistance should be annihilated, — which 
is physically impossible. f 

* Encyclopaedia Americana, vol. 10. Philadelphia, 1854. 
t Encyclopedic, ou Dictionnaire raisonn^ des Sciences, des Arts, et 
des Metiers. Par Diderot et D'Alembert. Neufchastel, 1765. Folio. 


[The article concludes, referring to "Matiere et Frotte- 
men.*' And under the word *' Mouvement," perpetual 
motion is treated as " Le celebre probl^me ;" and allusion is 
made to M. de la Hire's estimate of its impossibility, as it 
requires to find a body at the same time light and heavy ; or, 
a body which will outweigh' itself.] 

11. — In the " Encyclopedic Methodique" will be foimd two 
articles — one, " L'Examen du Mouvement Perpetuel," which, 
with the diagrams, is extracted from Montucla's "Mathe- 
matical Recreations ;" the second, by M. Decremps, of which 
we now offer an abridged translation, is as follows : — 

Perpetual Motion, as proved, is but a step of the ladder of 
ambition to the mechanic. We will give, by way of recrea- 
tion or amusement, an idea of a perpetuated movement, pro- 
duced by magnetic attraction. 

Mr. Wilson shows in his cabinet, at York, a compass 
arranged on a pivot, in the midst of a circle of iron hooks, 
constantly turning round by the influence of the magnetised 
iron hooks, each attracting the needle in its turn. It was 
considered a trick, really effected by concealed clockwork. 

Mr. Wilson showed another experiment, consisting of two 
cross pieces of wood on a pivot, placed vertically, each having 
at its extremity inclined cases, or ,^. ^ v 

sheaths, containing balls of lead 
(see Fig. 4, plate 3). He says it 
is as simple as ingenious : it is 
attached by string. The balls A 
and B are in equilibrium, because 
they are at an equal distance from 
the vertical line passing through 
the centre E : by the construction 
of the machine the baU D, being, 
on the contrary, farther from the 
centre than the ball C, ought to 
overweigh this last one, and over- 
come the equilibrium, descend to the point B, and cause the 
machine to make a quarter turn, and so on \mtil worn out. 

206 PERPETUUM mobile; 

To prove the falsity of the experiment, we see that the 
Ball D (Fig. 6), being farther from the centre than the ball C, 
tends to carry it round ; but the 
ball B, which at the same moment ^^*ff' ^O 

is farther from the centre than the 
ball A, tends to reverse the motion. 
These opposite efforts must then 
stop the machine. Mr. Wilson 
admitted this statement, and said 
the arms were magnetised, and 
the stand contained a hidden 
magnet, and was so artfully con- 
trived as to be capable of easily 

12. — ^The following is from Zedler's " Great Universal 
Lexicon of all Knowledge and Art," Leipsic and Halle, 
1741 :— 

Perpetual Motion, in mechanics, is the name given to the 
extraordinary movement of a machine possessing within 
itself its own power of motion, and so it would deserve to be 
called if it would last as long as the materials used in its 
construction. But, as a necessary consequence, it must act 
independent of outward power, and possess within itself the 
power of movement. Many persons have, from ancient times 
to the present day, sought to obtain this object, with great 
trouble and at much expence. Gaspar Schottus has described 
many rare examples in his " Technica Curiosa," lib. x., P. i., 
p. 732. But there is a larger collection of these examples by 
Francisco Tertio de Lanis, in his " Magisterio Naturae et 
Artis," tom. i., lib. viii., c. 2 and 3 ; also L. C. Sturm, in 
" Mathesi," P. ii., p. 366. For, although the search seemed 
to be given up, and the pursuit was much ridiculed by 
Bonajustus Lorini, in his work, lib. v., c. 19, who considers 
it an enquiry beneath the attention of any learned mathe- 
matician, and that the finding of it would be less a mental 

* Dictionnaire £ncyclop6dique des Amu semens des Sciences Math^- 
matiques et Physiques. Part — of the £ncyclop4die M^thodique. Paris, 
1792. 4to. 


investigation than an accidental discovery, besides that the 
loss of power by friction alone would exclude obtaining an exact 
calculation, many other circumstances concur to increase the 
difficulty. The complicated construction of most machinery 
conceals the truth as regards defects ; it depends on a mere 
matter of chance to discover it. Simon Stevinus, in his " Ele- 
ment. Static," lib. i., prop. 19, p. 448, gives a demonstration of 
the balance, in which he clearly proves that this movement is 
quite impossible. After him, we have Leibnitz, who has 
examined plans, and shows that machines of this kind must 
cease movement ; and says, whoever wishes to follow this 
pursuit must be thoroughly versed in mechanics, so as to be 
prepared for, and provided against, every obstruction as it 

In 1730, Schliiter, an eminent engineer, received an offer 
of 30,000 roubles from the King if he, or any other, would 
find out perpetual motion ; but, in consequence of his 
decease, his son renewed the offer, but without avail. In 
1712, Herr Orffyreus, celebrated in mathematics and 
mechanics, made a great sensation, having, after ten years' 
study and industry, perfected a perpetual motion ; the first 
model of it was 2§ Leipsic yards in diameter and 4 inches 
deep ; it raised some pounds. He then exhibited it at Court, 
before the nobility and people of high standing, and some 
celebrated mathematicians and mechanics. He showed it 
in several places, and was much censured for its small- 
ness, his critics declaring that a larger one would not 
go. He, therefore, constructed a large machine in 1713, 
which was nearly 6 Leipsic yards high and 6 inches thick, 
revolving at the rate of fifty revolutions per minute, and raised 
a weight of 40 pounds. This he exhibited openly before 
persons of all classes. He next went to Merseburg, where 
he constructed a third machine, 6 Leipsic yards high (and 
one schuh thick) . No outward cause of motion was observable, 
although examined by various artizans and others capable of 
judging ; it could be moved by the finger, and had a strong 
inward power of its own. Being much persecuted by 
censures, he challenged an open trial, which occurred 
October 31, 1715, before commissioners, a prince, duke, 
several members of the nobility and learned societies, all of 
whom signed a certificate to the effect that they had seen 
it turn both right and left, on the slightest impulse, soon 


acquiring a regular, rapid movement. It was published, with 
two others, at Leipsic, 1715, entitled — " Advice to Students 
on the Orffyrean System ; the happy discoverer of the Per- 
petual Motion." His opponents continued nimierous and 
violent, one laying a large wager that no such power existed. 

In 1716, Christian Wagner, a great mathematician, in 
Leipsic, published — " The now fully discovered Perpetual 
Motion," in which he shows that, through the experiments of 
Orfiyreus, he has made his own discoveries. He constructed 
a copper machine, which turned right and left with amazing 
rapidity, lifting a weight of 70 poimds ; and this he exhibited 
in Leipsic. 

One of Orffyreus's opponents, J. G. Borlach, of Dresden, 
wrote, in 1716, " Advice against Perpetual Motion." 

Jacob A. Mahn, who was first a confectioner and then a 
clockmaker, professed to have been anticipated in the inven- 
tion by Orffyreus, being himself short of means, and published 
his complaint in the newspapers of 1717. This, and other 
like representations, have not damaged Orffyreus' s reputation 
of being the happy possessor of the secret of this wonderful 

We next hear of Orffjrreus being at Cassel, where he filled 
the office of Coimcillor of Commerce. He there constructed 
another machine, and then put forth the following advertise- 
ment: — " Fresh news of the curious and well-confirmed 
perpetual motion trial of Herr Orff3rreus, which he now 
exhibits in a newly-built machine at Weissen-stein, near 
Cassel. From November, 1717, until the present year, 1718, 
it has moved perpetually during eight weeks. It is under 
the lock and seal of the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel. All 
who doubt are invited to inspect it. And, moreover, a wager 
of 10,000 reichs-thaler is offered for any one to accept." The 
diameter of this wheel was 12 schuhe, and 2i schuhe thick ; the 
axle-tree was 6 schuhe long, and 8 zoll (inches) thick. It was 
made of oak ; it turned either way, commencing by a slow 
movement, which went on increasing. It had power to raise 
a large heavy box, full of stones ; and this power was 
so evident as to dissipate all doubts of its genuineness. The 
Landgrave signed a certificate, speaking of the merits of the 
invention in unqualified terms of commendation. It was 
expected it could be employed for various practical opera- 
tions, as mill-work and raising water ; particularly by 


Prince Charles (the Landgrave), who was well versed in both 
mathematics and mechanics, and had given much time and 
attention to the study of perpetual motion. Orfiyreus, on his 
part, required a special protection, which the Landgrave 
refused ; this became a cause of dispute, the particulars of 
which appear in Bresslauer's " History of Nature and Medi- 

Gartner, of Poland, made an Archimedean screw, and a 
machine working by means of balls or weights, a full account 
of which is given in the " Sejour de Paris." He went 
to Paris and produced another machine, also worked by 
balls ; but of these inventions we have only his own account. 
On his return to Germany, he made a whet-stone or grind- 
stone, worked by a perpetual movement, turning right or left, 
quick or slow, and moveable from place to place. The King 
of Poland invited him to his Court, and enquired whether 
the power could be applied to carry on great works, of which 
Gartner expressed his opinion of its inapplicability on so 
large a scale. Gartner* has published numerous learned 
papers on this subject, many of which will be foimd in Bress- 
lauer's work, already named.f 

13. — In the "AllgemeineEncyclop'adie,vonM. H.E.Meier," 
of 1842, is an article by Hankel, on Perpetual Motion. He 
classes this motion as — 

First, Physical ; and, secondly. Mechanical. To the first 
belong the barometer and the magnet; and to the second 
(generally understood), a machine which not only has a self- 
moving power of its own, but is capable of renewing and 
keeping up its own motion without any outward help ; or, 
again, one part of a machine following another in a rotation 
or a circle, so that the part carried roimd should return to its 
first position without having lost any of its pristine power. 
Kaspar Schottus's "Technica Curiosa" refers to several 
machines, and we find many more described by Franziskus 

• In Meier's EncyclopaBdia, of 18412, is a statement of the discovery 
of GS.rtner'8 plan being a deception. 

t J. H. Zedler*s Great Universal Lexicon. Leipsic and Halle, 1741. 


de Lanis, in his " Magisterium Naturae et Artis." In numbers 
of the "Journal des Savans" for 1678, 1686, 1700, 1726, 
and 1745, are accounts of many machines which are said to 
have succeeded in attaining and retaining perpetual motion. 
But Papinus appears to have written most favourably* on this 
subject in the " Phil. Trans.," xv. and xvi., and " Acta Erud.,'' 
1688 and 1689. We have also, on this matter, Desaguliers, 
in "Phil. Trans.," xxxi. ; C. L. Sturm, in "Math.," part ii., 
p. 366; Bonajustus Lorini, in " Festungsbauj" lib. v., c. 19; 
Simon Stevinus, in "Element. Static," lib. i., prop. 19; 
Parent, in " Mem. de TAcad.," Paris, 1700, p. 159. La Hire, 
in " Mem. de TAcad.," x., p. 426, expresses himself quite 
against it ; which feeling may be earlier traced in the corre- 
spondence of Com. Drebbel von Peiresc to his friend 
Camden (" G. Camdeni Epistolse," Londini, 1691, pp. 333, 
387), and also in Kepler (" Epistol.,'* 1718, p. 393). Chr. 
Wolff, in his " Math. Lexic," Leipsic, 1716, is favourable 
to the possibility of a perpetual motion. Diez describes, in 
1722, a machine he constructed on the system of Orflfyreus's 
plan, but treats of the incompleteness of that and all others 
that had appeared. The Academy of Paris, in 1775, passed 
a resolution not to consider any plans intended for perpetual 
motion; at the same time appeared a paper from Camot 
(" Principes fondamentaux de Tequilibre et du mouvement," 
Par., 1803, sec. 281). T.Young ("Lee. on Nat. Phil.," 
tom. i., p. 91), and others, although they have written against 
it — ^but persons, mostly of uncultivated minds — stiU hope to 
find out this movement. 

In 1712, a certain Orffyreus, named Bessler, of Saxony, 
after ten years hard striving, professed to have foimd per- 
petual motion, being then in Gera. He made a second larger 
machine at Draschwitz, in 1713. A third still larger wheel 
was made in Merseburg : it lifted 70 lbs. from the court-yard 
up to the roof of the house he occupied. A fourth and 
larger wheel was erected by him at the desire of Landgrave 
Karl von Hessen-Cassel, at his castle of Weissen-stein, where 
it was in a sealed room, and found in eight weeks to be in 
the same good movement. He was strenuously opposed by 
the mechanic Gartner, of Dresden, and Barloch, who declared 
his discovery to be an imposition. Gartner finished a machine, 

• See Chapter IV, for Papin's real sentiments. 


or wheel, with weights, intended to perpetually move a clock, 
artfully constructed and beautifully worked: it stood on a 
raised stand or pedestal, under which, after some months, 
was discovered a hidden clockwork, by which the wheel was 
turned. It was made under the patronage of King Augustus 
II. of Poland. 

None of the foreign inventors have as yet found out a 
machine that without some outward help will continue in 
motion. These machines are all complicated, instead of 
adopting the most simple construction, and their inventors 
seem not properly to understand the principles of the lever. 
Descriptions of such machines will be found in a dissertation 
of Diez, also in one by Neumann (Lubfeck, 1767)-* 

14. — ^Dr. Binder, in his " Conversations Lexicon," published 
at Regensburg, 1848, says : — 

What is understood by perpetual motion is a self-moving 
machine, unaided by any outward appliance. Such motion 
is impossible, acted on as it must be by friction and other 
counteracting causes. The necessary loss of power must be 
apparent, because of the impulsive power being derived at 
the expense of any surplus power that might appear to be 
gained, for the operation cannot be greater than the cause. 
It has been a study and paradox for many ages. There are 
the clocks of Cox, La Paute, and others; the celebrated 
Merseburge machine, Castelli's wheel, the wonderful weight- 
moving machine of Conrad Schwiers.f There was also 
Geisser's wheel, but of which, in 1832, after his death, 
appeared a description in Poppe's " Wunder der Mechanik," 
showing it contained concealed clockwork. 

15. — ^The following short article, in Latin, is derived from 
Hoffmann's Lexicon of 1698 : — 

Perpetui Motus specimen, exhibetur ab Athanasio Kirchero, 
in hydraulica machina, seu clepsydra, quae, ubi effluxit inversa, 
iterum fluit ob versa, ccelum aquarum aspergine irrorans, uti- 

• M. H. E. Meier's Allgemeine Encyklop^die. 'Leipsic, 1842. Fol. 
f See his Patent in Chapter III., dale 1790. 


'212 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

docet in " Descript. Mussel Kircheriani," Georg. de Sepibus, 
p. 3. Idem alio quoque instruinent6 utcunque eum adum- 
brat. In co namque motu rarefactionis & condensationis, ex 
metu vacui sublata aut depressa aqua, quae in exteriore canali 
detinetur ; cum desuper levigato corpore innatante, per an- 
nexam chordam, quae circa cylindrum convoluta, suberis 
levissimi innatantis super aquam ponders in exteriore circulo 
per axim indice instructam vel horas vel humidum & siccum 
demonstrat. Sic ex quibusdam puteis, qui ad diversa anni 
tempora aqu^ plus minusve repletur, fieri potest thermome- 
trum, quod continue motu quatuor distinguat ; quinimo ad 
certa distincta spatia sono campanulse graduum aut anni mu- 
tatum tempus sonoro strepitu accidisse commoveat ; sicque 
in sphaera vitrea caloris & frigoris gradus distinguantur, 
(Vide Georg. de Sepibus in " Musaeo Kircheriano," p. 53, 
& supra Mobile Perpetuum.)* 

There is a large amount of repetition in this chapter, and 
which it has been difficult to avoid increasing. Sufficient 
has been quoted to satisfy an impartial reader how imsatis- 
factorily these great channels of information have supplied 
matter on this one subject. The French Encyclopaedias are 
the most defective ; but the German " Conversations Lexicons" 
are comprehensive, and afibrd the greatest number of authori- 
ties ; still, of these we have been obliged to omit an edition 
of 1836 ; and also Dr. Wolff, 1843 ; I. Meyer, 1860 ; and 
(Brockhaus) 1853 and 1856 ; in consequence of their striking 
resemblance to each other. 

* Lexicon Universale. By Joh. Jacobi Hofmaunus. Lugduni, Bata- 
vorum, 1698. Folio. 




We shall commence ^vith papers from the " London Maga- 
zine," the " Imperial Magazine," and the " Pamphleteer." 

The absurdity of a Perpetual Motion is demonstrated as 
follows in the " London Magazine," vol. 17, 1749 : — 

As a perpetual motion, according to the opinion of some 
gentlemen, seems to be comprehended within the sphere 
of human attainments, I humbly present these lines to the 
publick, to caution such against vain and fruitless enquiries. 

* * -i^ •H' * 'i^ % 

In researches after this unattainable solution, not thinking 
it requisite, in the first place, to study the natural propensity 
of matter, which, causing its tendency to a state of inactivity, 
must consequently subject it to rest, as soon as deprived of 
its given velocity by repeated retardations, which all bodies 
moving in our atmosphere, or in any other medium, are per- 
petually subjected to ; for even the least particle, upon 
collision or percussion, let its direction be what it will — viz., 
direct, oblique, or perpendicular — ^bears a part in the obstruc- 
tion, which is more or less in proportion to such resisting 
particles or powers, difierent degrees of magnitude, density, 
elasticity, non-elasticity, &c. Therefore, when the sum of 
the velocity, which the resisting powers have received, 
amounts to the momentum given their actuating body, such 
having thus communicated its motion to circumambient 
particles or powers, must again return to its natural state of 
rest. Perhaps this demonstration may appear more evident 

214 PERPETUUM mobile; 

by a logistical method of argument, for which reason it may 
be requisite to reduce the whole into a syllogism. 

As, according to the laws of nature, every moving body 
loses its motion, and returns to a state of rest, upon meeting, 
in a rectilinear direction, with a resisting power equal to the 
momentum wherewith it moves : 

And as the factum, or aggregate, of a sufficient multiplicity 
of minutest resisting powers (or that of the successive and 
perpetually resisting force of the particles of air, which all 
bodies moving in our atmosphere are subjected unto) amounts 
to any momentum how great soever : 

Ergoy all moving bodies will at length lose their motion 
and return to their natural state of inactivity — viz., when the 
sum of the retardations they meet with becomes equal to the 
momentum of the motions first communicated. 

"The Perpetual Motion Hunter" is the title of an article 
in the " Imperial Magazine," vol. 6, 1824 : — 

It gives me much pleasure (says the writer) to observe 
that you notice scientific subjects : you are very right in so 
doing, as it will not only give variety, but add considerably 
to the value of your very useful miscellany. It is my humble 
opinion that such a procedure is infinitely better than filling 
it with the splenetic efiusions of angry minds, the ebullitions 
of disappointed envy, or, what is worse, dealing out large 
portions of scandal, and making use of personalities to wound 
virtuous sensibility; as is the constant practice in some 
similar publications. 

I am now. Sir, an elderly man, and am sorry to inform you 
that I have lost much valuable time, and, of course, money, 
too, from having been infected, in the early part of my life, 
with the vanity of hunting after that ignis fatuus^ called the 
" perpetual motion." Common report informed me that it 
would immortalize the name of the inventor ; that by it the 
longitude would be discovered ; and that, on this account, 
the British Parliament had ofiered a premium of ten thousand 
pounds for the discovery ! This was something like assailing 
a man at all points at once : the acquirement of such pro- 
digious fame flatters his vanity; and the "ten thousand 


pounds '* could be looked upon in no other light than as the 
reward of distinguished genius ! 

Under these impressions I began my career, and pursued 
it with an ardour which, in any other case, could not have 
failed to ensure me success. I read, with the greatest 
avidity, all the accounts of such machines 1 could anywhere 
meet with. For a short time I was amused with the ball of 
iron and the magnet, mentioned in Bishop Wilkins' " Mathe- 
matical Magic." I afterwards studied the properties of 
Orfiyreus^s wheel, which, as Gravesande informs us, con- 
tinued in rapid motion for two months ; at the end of which 
period it was stopped, he says, to prevent the wear of the 
materials. This astonishing wheel was, you know, destroyed 
by the inventor soon after the time of the above-mentioned 
experiment. I endeavoured, with all my might, to recover 
the long-lost secret, and success partly crowned my efforts ; 
for, after a great deal of wearisome labour, I constructed a 
machine which I then believed would amply compensate the 
loss which the crazy philosopher had occasioned, when, in 
a fit of frenzy, he dashed it to pieces. The delight which 
Newton felt on discovering the law of universal gravitation did 
not exceed mine when I found that my machine would answer 
the intended purpose. 'Tis true, it would not put itself in 
motion — but what then ? It was sufficient for the purpose, if 
it would move perpetually when put in motion ; and at that 
time, like many others, I did not quite understand how many 
requisites were necessary in order that a machine might 
become a " perpetual motion.'* 

You can scarcely imagine how my heart palpitated when I 
sent off a description of this, my first invention, to the Board 
of Longitude ; it was a machine which I had no doubt would 
determine the longitude, both at sea and land, with the 
greatest ease and accuracy. During the first week, my 
nightly slumbers were frequently broken by the violent per- 
turbations of my mind ; and my day-dreams almost continually 
represented to me the postman knocking at my door with the 
wished-for letter that was to crown all my hopes. So certain 
was I of success, that I actually began to look about for an 
estate which the ten thousand pounds were to purchase ; for, 
in my mind's eye, I had it already in my grasp. The humble 
occupation I had till then followed, I now looked upon with 
disgust ; and I saw myself at once elevated to opulence and 

216 PERPETUUM mobile; 

fame. I waited with patience — ^yes, Mr. Editor, with all the 
patience I could muster — ^but no letter arrived. However, 

** Day presses on the heels of day, 
And moons increase to their decay." i 

After a few weeks, my mind recovered its wonted serenity ; 
and in about three months more, my machine was as free from 
any violent perturbations as my mind, for, at the end of that 
period, it had completely lost all power, either of perpetuating 
or continuing its motion. This circumstance occasioned me 
some uneasiness; and I was not much amused with the 
taunting remark of one of my friends, who, on viewing it, 
exclaimed, "Well! it is a perpetual motion still /^^ At the 
end of nine months, I received a letter from the Secretary of 
the Board of Longitude, informing me of what I already 
knew — ^viz., that my machine would not answer. 

It is now carefully stowed in my brother Jonathan's garret, 
at Brigg,' in Lincolnshire, where it may be seen by all who 
are curious in such matters. 

I now turned my mind into a different channel. I thought 
it possible that the object of my search might be accomplished 
by means of some of the fluids. I considered, with care, the 
almost continued oscillation of the mercury in the tube of the 
barometer ; but I could deduce from this motion no practical 
result. I afterwards endeavoured to turn the tides to some 
account ; but I failed here also. At length, after turning my 
mind in a variety of ways, as I was one day reading an 
account of the rise of water in capillary tubes, it at once 
occurred to me that, as the water rises in such a tube to more 
than an inch above the surface of the water in the vessel in 
which the tube is immersed, if I placed the tube in an inclined 
position, the water would run over its top ; and as it would 
fall into the same vessel, the motion thus produced would be 
perpetual. At this moment my mind was again agitated : I 
exclaimed, like Pythagoras, " I have found it ! I have found 
it!" I now supposed myself to be as great a man as any 
Pythagoras that ever lived* I did not, however, run out, 
like him, naked into the street ; but I remember the discovery 
was made in the winter season, when I was warmly and 
comfortably clothed : had it been in the summer, I cannot tell 
what might have happened. 

1 soon procured a capillary tube, and proceeded very care- 


fully to make the experiment ; but the water did not flow ! 
Well, said I, this is curious ; but a syphon will run : that the 
water does not run from the top of the tube, is owing to the 
pressure of the atmosphere upon it. I now ordered a capillary 
syphon; and was again disappointed, for the sluggish water, 
as if envious of my fame, still refused to move.* 

Having recovered a little from the stupor into which I had 
been thrown by the failure of another of my schemes, it 
occurred to me that if I employed a syphon to carry water 
over the bank of a river that communicated with the sea, the 
syphon would run if the outer leg on the outside of the bank 
was longer than the inner leg ; and because the water would 
find its way into the ocean, and be brought back by the process 
of evaporation, which is constantly going on, the motion would 
be perpetual. I could not, however, employ this method to 
discover the longitude, either at sea or land, and of course I 
was not entitled, from this invention, to the ten thousand 

Another of my machines consisted of two wheels, A and B : 
the wheel A had a number of buckets at equal distances 
roimd its outer rim : these buckets were so placed that they 
would each contain a ball of iron. Seven such balls were 
always on one side of the wheel A, urging it downwards ; 
and one was in the inside of the wheel B. When the wheel 
A had arrived in a certain position, the lowest ball fell out of 
its bucket, and rolled down an inclined plane, placed for that 
purpose, into the interior of B ; and then it rolled down 
another inclined plane into the top bucket of the wheel A ; 
and so on. This machine had a very specious appearance, 
and was mistaken for a perpetual motion by thousands of 
well-informed persons. I need scarcely add that the persons 
I mention were ignorant of the laws of motion and the theory 
of mechanics. A similar machine was lately exhibited for a 
perpetual motion, and a great deal of money made by shewing 
it to the good people of New York, in North America. My 
last invention of this kind consisted of an iron wheel and four 
magnets, similar to the one exhibited some time back in 

* I have since found that nearly the same account is given by Dr. Jurin, 
in the Appendix to Cotes' Lectures on Hydrostatics. I can assure you, 
however, that the experiments were actually made by me in the manner 
above related* 


Edinburgh, and other places. As the wheel did not move 
uniformly, and as the power of the magnets soon began to 
diminish, I suspected it would ultimately fail, and abandoned 
it altogether. It is necessary to inform you that my modesty 
— or, rather, my honesty — would never permit me to exhibit 
any of my inventions for money, as I had always very strong 
grounds of suspicion that they would not answer, and my 
suspicions were always verified in a short time. It was only 
after a great number of disappointments that I began seriously 
to think on the subject. I at first wondered how it happened 
that my schemes should always prove abortive ; but I soon 
discovered that I was entirely ignorant of the theory of 
mechanics. Not long after, I had also the mortification to 
perceive that, I had totally mistaken the specific nature of the 
machine which had been so long the object of my search ; so 
that it would have been next to a miracle if I had found it. 
I now began, in earnest, to acquire a knowledge of the prin- 
ciples of natural philosophy, and I very soon found that I 
had begun at the wrong end of my business. 

My misfortunes had created in me serious musings. Yes, 
said I, in all ages mankind have had some favorite object to 
pursue, — a something bordering on the limits of impossibility. 
Astrology, or the foretelling of future events, was once the 
grand charm that led men astray. People are fond of prying 
into futm-ity : all men are naturally delighted with what is 
wonderful ; and what pains do they take to deceive them- 
selves ! Astrology ruled with despotic sway during the reign 
of ignorance ; but, as knowledge advanced, the chimera 
retreated ; and the few votaries it has now left are ranked 
either amongst the most ignorant or the most knavish of all 
the human race. 

Alchemy was another favorite pursuit. To be able to 
transmute the baser metals into gold w;as certainly an object 
of the greatest consequence, and now the discovery would be 
particularly desirable. There is no doubt that it would be 
liberally patronized by the Ministers of State and the mem- 
bers of the British Senate ; because, if properly managed, it 
would enable them to pay off the national debt, and ease the 
good people of England of the intolerable burden of taxa- 
tion. In case of such an event taking place, what joy would 
be diffused throughout the whole of this great empire ! The 
people would be wealthy, and the Ministers again able to 


create places and to give pensions ad infinitum. But I must 
return to my subject. The search after the perpetual motion 
is of the same nature as those of astrology and alchemy : it 
has long amused the ignorant and deceived the credulous ; 
but men of science, properly qualified to judge of its merits, 
look upon it as a nonentity, and laugh at its proselytes as 
deluded creatures, who are pursuing a phantom of their own 

I have not much hope of being able to convince those 
persons who are in search of this shadow of a shade, that 
their labours will be fruitless. I will proceed, however, to 
describe the machine they are endeavouring to construe:. 
The perpetual motion is a machine which possesses within 
itself the principle of self-motion ; and, because every body 
in nature, when in motion, would continue in that state, it 
follows that every motion, once begun, would be perpetual, 
if it were not acted upon by some opposing force, such as 
friction, the resistance of the air, &c. In order, then, to 
produce a perpetual motion, we have only to remove all the 
obstacles which oppose that motion, and it is obvious that, if 
we could do this, any motion whatever would be a perpetual 
motion. But how, let me ask, are we to get rid of these 
obstacles ? Can the friction between tw'o touching bodies be 
entirely annihilated ? — or has any substance yet been found 
that is void of friction? Can we totally remove all the 
resistance of the air, which is a force continually varying ? 
And does not the air at all times retain its impeding force ? 
They cannot be removed, then, so long as the present laws 
of nature continue to exist ; and who will attempt to destroy 
them ? Besides, it is a well-known principle in mechanics, 
" that no power can be gained by any combination of 
machinery, except there be at the same time an equal gain in 
an opposite direction ;" and must there not be some absolute 
loss arising from opposing forces, as friction, &c. ? How, 
then, can a perpetual motion be foimd by any combination of 
machinery? Another necessary circumstance is, that the 
motion of any such machine be uniform ; for, if it accelerates, 
it will in time become swift enough to tear itself to pieces ; 
if it retards, it will at length stop. Now, among all the 
numerous forces acting on machines, — forces, too, which are 
continually var}dng, according to known causes, and to the 

220 PEEPETUXJM mobile; 

influence of which every machine is constantly liable, — ^who 
is there so hardy as even to imagine that a machine can be 
constructed, the motion of which shall be constant, and uni- 
formly the same ? There is one perpetual motion, and but 
one, — that is, I know of but one, — and that was constructed 
by Infinite Wisdom. The Divine Creator of the universe 
has balanced this earth with such exquisite art, that its 
diurnal revolutions are performed so precisely in the same 
time, that it has not varied the hundredth part of a second 
since the time of Hipparchus, which is noyr more than two 
thousand years. 

All that we can hope is, that the beams of science will 
diffuse truth more generally through the world ; for, other- 
wise, dreamers of every kind will continue to dream to the 
end of time. 

-The following article appeared in an American scientific 
journal. The first part of it only is here taken from a reprint 
in the " Technological Repository," entitled — 

On the futility of the attempts to construct Perpetual Motions, By 
Dr, Thomas -P. Jones, JSditor of the ^* Journal of the Franklin 

It will not be expected, by those conversant with the 
inquiry, that anything really new can be offered on a subject 
which has been so frequently and so ably treated as the 
inquiry into the possibility of constructing a machine which 
has within itself a principle of continued motion. There is 
something extremely fascinating in the pursuit of this object, 
as is evinced not only by the attempts of a host of tyros in 
mechanics, but by the persevering efforts of some men of 
genius and science, who, although they have professed faith 
in the admitted laws of motion, have yet proved by their 
works that their faith was not perfect. Whilst there is 
nothing, in the known laws which govern the material world, 
upon which to found the idea of being able to construct a 
perpetual motion, the time might not be misspent which 
should be devoted to an investigation of the causes which 
operate upon the mind in exciting and keeping alive the ex- 
pectation that such a machine will somq day be discovered ; 


but if we possessed the ability fully to prosecute this investi- 
gation, it would belong more to a work devoted to moral, 
than to mechanical, philosophy. 

Some of our readers may be ready to exclaim, " But we 
have understood that all philosophers denied the possibility 
of any such thing." We believe that all who really merit 
the name of mechanical philosophers do unite in such a 
denial ; but, if this be the fact, the corps is but a small one ; 
for our own observations, together with numerous facts upon 
record which might be called as evidence, go to prove most 
clearly that there are but few persons who admit this truth 
as they admit an axiom : there appears, in general, to exist 
some mental reservation; some apprehension that, if they 
declare the thing impossible, it may nevertheless happen that 
some lucky wight may "hit upon it," and thus ruin their re- 
putation as accurate philosophers ! 

The subject of mechanics is one which, of necessity, 
occupies a large portion of the attention of mankind. All the 
moving powers which we can command are called to our 
aid ; but into the actual employment and adaptation there 
enters much more of practice than of principle. A great 
portion of our mechanics are men of observation, intelligence, 
and experience ; and many of them have paid praiseworthy 
attention to science. But their very' pursuits and occupa- 
tions, although greatly aided by the scientific knowledge they 
have acquired, forbid their carrying such investigations to a 
great extent. And we ought not, therefore, to be much 
astonished if some of them are occasionally engaged in this 
fruitless pursuit. To their credit, however, this is now a 
rare occurrence, as the observations founded upon correct 
practice must necessarily lead to the same general results as 
does a correct theory. The constant employment or notice 
of the various machines which are daily seen in operation, 
induces almost every man to conclude that he knows some- 
thing of mechanics. In many of these machines, the cause of 
their motion is very obscure ; whilst the motion itself is not 
only evident, but so uniform and continuous, as may well 
lead the ordinary mind astray, and cause the conclusion that 
the step from some of them to an actual perpetual motion is 
but a short one. 

There are but few terms in our language which are less 
definite than the term " science ;" it embraces almost every 

222 PERPETUUM mobile; 

department of human knowledge, whether natural, moral, or 
physical; and it happens, unfortunately, that when philo- 
sophers and men of science are mentioned, the world are not 
Very discriminative ; and the opinion of the adept in natural 
history, or in chemistry, will carry an undue weight in 
subjects to which he has not attended, and of which, 
although he is a man, he is nearly or completely ignorant 
It is in this way certainly, and in this only, that the votaries of 
science, and the believers in a mechanical perpetual motion, 
have been identified. On which side were the scientific 
men of Philadelphia arranged, when Redheffer's machine 
was exhibited at Chesnut Hill? Those who recollect the 
period will find no difficulty in answering the question. 
We believe that nineteen-twentieths of those that were so 
esteemed were avowed believers. We know one gentle- 
man who professed, and was believed, to be a man of 
great mechanical knowledge, who delayed in completing a 
patent, lest Redheffer^s machine should be found to be 
genuine. We are of opinion that there is scarcely any 
other subject so familiarly spoken of, and so little understood, 
as the principles of mechanics; and no one, therefore, in 
which quackery is more certain of success. 

Let not our readers expect that, because we have thus 
freely spoken our sentiments, we are about to demonstrate 
that a mechanical perpetual motion is an impossibility : we 
should indeed be willing to take any particular machine, 
which might be pointed out to us as such, and undertake to 
show the fallacy of its claim ; but to give a general negative 
demonstration is a task which we cannot undertake. It 
belongs to those who advocate its possibility, to establish a 
principle upon which it may be made to act ; the general 
practice, however, has been to exhibit a complication of 
levers, weights, or other powers, which serve to obscure the 
action of the individual parts, and to claim, for the whole, 
effects to which these individual parts, taken alone, have 
no power to contribute. 

It has been, we think, truly observed, that to produce a 
perpetual motion we must find a body which is at the same 
time both heavier and lighter than itself, and in which the 
action and re-action may consequently be unequal. This is 
manifestly a physical absurdity ; and although many attempts 
have been made to cheat bodies out of the properties with 


which nature has endued them, yet no one has had the 
hardihood to deprive them of their essence in a legitimate 

To investigate the laws which obtain in the motion of 
bodies, would require a treatise of no small length: this, 
therefore, we cannot attempt ; but, nevertheless, think it 
necessary to offer a few remarks upon some of them, and 
particularly upon the property denominated inertia, and upon 

The very words which we employ to designate a particular 
thing are frequently permitted to lead us into error, in conse- 
quence of our not restricting our terms according to the 
nature of the things to which they are applied: thus, we 
frequently use the expression, " the power of inertia," 
which may lead to the conclusion that from this property 
of matter some power may be derived; although the very 
term " inertia " is intended to express the simple fact that 
matter is altogether inactive or powerless. Inertia is a mere 
nullity ; and, therefore, instead of conveying the idea of power, 
it is intended to express the entire absence, rather than the 
existence, of that property. If this be true, inertia can give 
us no aid in producing a perpetual motion ; for, supposing, 
for the sake of argument, that gravitation, friction, and a 
resisting medium, could be placed out of the question ; as 
every single impulse which is given to matter tends to carry 
it on in a straight line, whatever deflected it must necessarily 
abstract from, and eventually stop, its motion. All our 
machines must have either a vibratory or a curvilinear 
motion, or they woidd, from their very structure, soon elude 
our grasp ; any impidse which we give to them cannot, there- 
fore, be continued, in consequence of the inertia of the matter 
of which they are composed. But we must also, and at every 
moment, encounter friction and a resisting medium ; and, in 
consequence of these, our machine must eventually lose what- 
ever impulse we may have given to it ; for, although matter 
is indifferent both to rest and motion, it is not so to impulse, 
or, which is the same thing, to resistance ; and whether we 
abstract from its motion by grains or by ounces, it must 
eventually cease. Upon this it is imnecessary to dwell, 
because the fact must be admitted on all hands to be as 
stated. But if inertia, or the absence of power, cannot give 
power to a machine, may we not obtain something from 


momentum ? Momentimi is the quantity of motion, and is 
compounded of the quantity of the matter moved, and the 
velocity with which it moves. The case we have been con- 
sidering imder the head of inertia is a case of momentum ; as 
we have supposed a certain impulse given to matter, which 
matter has, in consequence, acquired motion, and which 
motion, from inertia, woidd be continued were there no 
counteracting causes. If we give a double velocity to our 
machine, or mass of matter — as to a wheel, for example — 
we give a double momentum, or, what is the same thing, a 
double space of time, cceteris paribus^ to exhaust this motion. 
We have not, therefore, advanced a single step towards per- 
petuity. It consequently is not in this way that aid has been 
sought from momentum, but one which, although it is equally 
fallacious, is better calculated to deceive. We have already 
observed that the momentum of a body is increased by 
increasing its velocity, or the space through which it passes 
in a given time, although its quantity of matter remains the 
same. Suppose We have a horizontal lever, or bar, with 
equal weights at each end of it, A and B, supported by a 
fulcnmi between them, and that the fulcrum is but half the 
distance from A at which it stands from B ; when allowed 
to move, B will therefore preponderate, and will move with a 
velocity which will be double that of A — that is, it will 
descend two inches whilst A ascends but one : its momentum 
power, or quantity of motion, will therefore be double. If, 
now, we could cause the fulcrum to change its place — that is, 
to bring it as near to B as it was to A, and back again 
alternately, each of the weights would preponderate in its 
turn, and a perpetual vibration would ensue. How an effect 
of this kind has been attempted, will be seen upon an 
examination of some of the plans to be presented in the 

In many instances, machines have been made so complex 
as to render an analysis of them somewhat difficult, even 
to well-informed observers. This complexity, however, 
instead of promoting the desired end, only renders a larger 
portion of foreign aid necessary to produce and continue the 

Numerous impositions have been practised by individuals 
who have pretended that they had made self-moving ma- 
chines. When deceptions of this sort have been practised. 


tlie charlatans have, of course, endeavoured to perpetuate the 
conceahnent of their mode of procedure.* 

[This article, which is of a very verbose character, pro- 
ceeds to denounce Redheffer's machine as a deceptive one, 
and gives an account of " the wheel of Orfiyreus," similar to 
that already given in the present collection. We now give 
in aii abridged form the remaining portion of this paper, 
entitled — ] 

Observations on the attempt to construct Machines of the kind usually 
intended by the term of Perpetual Motion; with notices of some of 
the particular Machines which have at different times been proposed 
for the attainment of this object. By the Editor A 

Almost the only machine of the kind which has obtained any 
celebrity is the wheel of Orfiyreus, of which an acco\mt was 
published by the celebrated philosopher, 's Gravesande, in 

[Diagrams from Wilkins, Gravesande, and Nicholson, being 
described, the Editor proceeds : — ] 

The simplest rule that we can give, by which to perceive 
the fallacy of every plan depending upon the ascent and 
descent of weights, is, that whatever may be the weight which 
descends in a given time, it must raise an equal portion of 
matter to the same perpendicular height, in the same time, 
or the machine must evidently stop. Now, the power required 
to raise any weight to a given height is the same, provided 
the time be the same, whether that weight be raised vertically 
or obliquely. If the weights, the balls, or the mercury are 
to descend, they must first ascend to the necessary height ; 
an equilibrium must therefore soon take place, shotdd motion 
be produced by any extraneous force. Putting friction and a 
resisting medium out of the question, these machines supply 
no source of motion even to themselves. { 

* Gill's Technological and Microscopic Repository, vol. 6, 1830, 
p.* 06, which appears to be the last volume published. 

f Thomas P. Jones, M.D. 

X Journal of the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia (1828), vol. 6, p. 318. 

226 PEEPETUUM mobile; 

The two following articles are from the "Percy Anecdotes:" 

Pebpetual Motion Seeker. — Mr. Stukeley was a gentle- 
man of fortune, bred to the law, but relinquished the pro- 
fession, and retired into the country, filled with the project of 
discovering the perpetual motion. During a period of thirty 
years, he never went abroad but once, which was when he 
was obliged to take the oath of allegiance to King George 
the First ; this was also the only time he changed his shirt 
and clothes, or shaved himself, during the whole time of his 

Mr. Stukeley was at once the dirtiest and cleanliest of men, 
washing his hands twenty times a day, but his hands only. 
His family consisted of two female servants, one of whom 
lived in the house and the other out of it. He never had his 
bed made. After he relinquished the project of perpetual 
motion, he devoted himself to observing the works and 
economy of ants, and stocked the town so plentifully with 
that insect, that the fruits in the gardens were devoured by 
them. ****** 

The gentleman who accompanied him to the town-hall 
when he went to take the oath of allegiance, talked with him 
on every subject he could recollect, without discovering in 
him the least tincture of madness. He rallied himself on 
the perpetual motion, laughed at the folly of confining him- 
self in-doors, and said he believed he should, some time or 
other, come abroad again, like other men. He was always 
esteemed a person of good understanding, before his shutting 
himself up. At the time of his death, he was building a 
house the walls of which were seven feet thick. — [Vol. 10. 
Article " Eccentricity," p. 3.] 

Spence's Perpetual Motion. — ^Among those who have 
attempted the grand problem which has puzzled philosophers 
in all ages — the discovery of perpetual motion — few persons 
have displayed more ingenuity than John Spence, an untu- 
tored mechanic of Linlithgow. When only three or four 
years of age, Spence was excessively fond of mechanical 
inventions, and never could get the idea of them banished 
from his mind. When eleven years old, he invented and con- 
structed a model of a loom, the whole working apparatus of 


which was set in motion by a winch, or handle, at one side. 
It was contrived on the same principle as the looms subse- 
quently constructed in Glasgow to be wrought by the steam- 
engine, but had less machinery. He gave the model to a 
gentleman of Stirling, and never heard what became of it. 
When twelve years old, he was put to the trade of a shoe- 
maker; after only eight days' instruction, he was able to 
make shoes on his own acco\mt ; not that he was master of 
the trade, but he was then left to the resources of his own 
ingenuity, and acquired the art without farther actual super- 
intendence. But the natural bent of his genius leaned 
towards mechanics, and he never liked the employment. 
Wheels and levers occupied his mind from his earliest recol- 
lection, and he was happy only when he was inventing, or 
constructing what he had invented. He soon left his native 
town, and went to Glasgow, not with the view of following 
out the trade of a shoemaker, but in the hope of getting into 
an employment which would place him near some of the 
magnificent machines used by the manufacturers of that city. 
Uninstructed as an artist, however, and utterly ignorant of 
spinning and weaving, it was difficult for him to find a situa- 
tion about a manufactory which he was fitted to fill. At last 
he thought himself qualified for the himible situation of the 
keeper of an engine ; and, accordingly, engaged himself in 
that capacity. For two years his daily occupation was to 
feed the furnace and to oil the engine ; and he felt happy in 
the employment, for it afforded him an opportunity of looking 
upon wheels in motion. Tired, at last, of the sameness of 
the scene, he returned to Linlithgow, and endeavoured to 
follow his original trade. But the mechanical powers still 
haunted his imagination, and he continued to invent and 
construct, till he sometimes brought upon himself the admo- 
nitions of his friends and the scoffs of his enemies, for 
devoting so much time to his visionary inventions, as they 
called them, instead of attending to his trade. The invention 
of the long-sought-for perpetual motion appeared to him a 
splendid enterprise, attractive by the difficulty which attended 
it, and it excited his ambition by the very obstacles which it 
presented. He directed his ingenuity to that object, and at 
length he produced a piece of mechanism of extraordinary 

In the year 1814, he had become so disgusted with the 


228 PEEPETUUM mobile; 

trade of a shoemaker, that he could continue it no longer. 
Often would he throw the shoe from his hand in indignation, 
when his mind was diving deep into the principles of me- 
chanics, and accuse fortune for dooming him to such despi- 
cable drudgery. As often would he draw down the sage 
advices of his spouse, who regarded him as the dupe of a 
heated imagination. He now conceived the idea of becoming 
a weaver. He had then in view to erect looms to be worked 
by a water-wheel ; and thus promised himself both profit and 
pleasure from his change of profession. Accordingly, his 
first object was to learn the trade of a weaver. This was 
soon accomplished. He constructed with his own hands the 
whole apparatus of a loom, except the treddles and reed ; got 
a professional weaver to put in the first web ; and, without any 
other instruction, made as good cloth as those regularly bred 
to the business. This scheme, however, was never prosecuted 

His last effort was to complete his discovery of a perpetual 
motion. The invention was known in Linlithgow a consider- 
able time before it was known to the public; but it was 
despised there, in the usual way, for a prophet is not without 
honour, save in his own country. The voice of fame, how- 
ever, at length taught the good folks that a genius was 
among them, and they then crowded to see it, with as much 
eagerness as they formerly displayed indifference about it. 
A considerable number of strangers also visited it, and all 
expressed their admiration of the ingenuity, and, at the same 
time, the simplicity of the contrivance. 

It is difficult to convey an idea of the invention by descrip- 
tion. A wooden beam, poised by the centre, has a piece of 
steel attached to one end of it, which is alternately drawn up 
by a piece of magnet placed above it, and down by another 
placed below it ; and as the end of the beam approaches the 
magnet, either above or below, the machine interjects a non- 
conducting substance, which suspends the attraction of the 
magnet approached, and allows the other to exert its powers. 
Thus the end of the beam continually ascends and descends 
betwixt the two magDets, without ever coming into contact 
with either, the attractive power of each being suspended 
precisely at the moment of nearest approach. As the mag- 
netic attraction is a permanently operating power, there 
appears to be no limit to continuance of the motion, but the 


endurance of the materials of tlie machine. So much may be 
said of his model, which is rather a practical development of 
the principle than an application of it to any purpose. 

Spence afterwards simplified the apparatus, and exhibited 
a horizontal wheel, set full of needles, attracted constantly 
round by the magnetic power; and which, he said, would 
move as long as the axle of the wheel would last, or the 
magnetic virtue remain. 

Spence made several other ingenious machines, including a 
self-moving car, which was exhibited in Edinburgh, and on 
which he used frequently to make excursions along the road. 
This ingenious artist has very little of the enthusiastic visionary 
in his composition, but possesses a full reliance on his own 
powers. His education has been that of the operative 
mechanics of Scotldnd in general — ^reading, writing, and 
arithmetic ; but he has an intuitive perception of every 
principle connected with mechanics, which he never studied 
in books ; because he found, on attempting to do so, that he 
derived no instruction from reading, on account of not under- 
standing the terms. He has studied mechanics, however, 
extensively in another way — ^viz., by visiting many and various . 
machines, by observing them in motion, and by thinking on 
the principles developed in their construction. He cannot, 
however, he says, well understand a scientific description, or 
easily commimicate his own ideas by description to others. 
When he has invented any particular piece of mechanism, he 
constructs a model of it, and thus at once satisfies his own 
mind on the practicability of the principles, and conveys his 
ideas to other minds — ^rather, however, for his own gratifi- 
cation than for any assistance he expects to obtain from it. 
[Article " Ingenuity.'* — See also Chapter IX., page 145.] 

Under the title of "A few words inducing towards the 
discovery of Perpetual Motion, perhaps the actual discovery 
thereof," the following appears in the " Pamphleteer :" — 

London, March, 1822. 
What is meant by the term " Perpetual Motion ? " Is it 
supposed that there is an undiscovered substance in the world, 
that will of itself perpetually move, with as little apparent 

230 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

cause as that which actuates the needle in becoming motion- 
less in one particular position ? Or, is it to be found in the 
combined re-action of mechanical powers ? 

The first idea is stamped with a degree of probability, by 
the mystery of the needle ; yet I imagine the latter is relied 
on with the greater confidence of mankind, and is the pith of 
the following few words : — 

It is well known that the weight of a pendulum will almost 
regain the level from which it descended, losing a little 
space at every vibration, until it becomes motionless ; if of 
itself it could exceed or even regain the level, doubtless it 
would become a perpetual motion. 

To find a power that will aid the motion of the pendidum, 
and in conjunction renew its strength, is what is wanted to 
create perpetual motion. 

What I shall endeavour to explain will at least induce 
towards the discovery of this power. 

The principal parts of the machinery about to be shown 
are in number three : — 

A vibrating pendulum, 

A revolving pendulum, and 

A tubular lever. 

A vibrating pendulum in motion describes a segment of a 
circle, and returns on the same segment, and at every vibra- 
tion its described segment decreases. 

A revolving pendulum is composed of two or more pen- 
dulums, united at their lighter extremities, there revolving on 
an axis, the heavier extremities being placed at equal dis- 
tances in the outer circle : this, I believe, is what is termed 
a fly-wheel when affixed to hand-mills, &c. 

The tubular lever is the chief instigator of the whole, and 
must contain a weight apportioned to the weights of the two 

Fix the lever on a cross axis : thus, on an axis within a 
circle, the circle on an axis at opposite angles, thereby is given 
to each extremity of the lever a revolving power of motion ; 
attach one extremity of the lever to the outer circle of a 
revolving pendulum, the other extremity confine within the 
bar of the vibrating pendulum ; thus combined, the efiect to 
be produced when put in motion will be this — 

The two pendulums will guide the motion of the lever, 
which then partakes of the power of a pendulum, giving fresh 


impulse at every vibration of the pendulum, and every half 
revolution of the revolving pendulum ; for, as each extremity 
of the lever rises, the weight within falls to the opposite 
extremity, and gives fresh impulse to the whole : thus (if 
my idea is correct) will be produced motion perpetual — that 
is to say, perpetual so long as the materials of which it is 
made will hold together. 

1 have given this short description merely by way of 
example, as I believe there are several ways of combining 
these three powers, so as to produce perpetual motion, if my 
idea on the subject is correct. 

The lever may contain mercury or a solid orb of heavy 
substance ; and if the tube be exhausted of air the weight will 
pass more freely, and certainly increase the power of the 

The two following claims occur among the many instances 
of alleged discovery : — 

That great phaenomenon, a perpetual motion, is now found 
out by Sir Charles le Blon, and Henry Huish, Esq., captain in 
the Royal navy. The mechanical part of it was performed 
and improved by Mr. William Paget, watchmaker, late of 
Burford, in the county of Oxford. — (The "London Magazine," 

Amongst the perpetual claimants of this (so far as we 
know) undiscovered discovery, another has arisen, who 
asserts that he has invented one which has not ceased for 
several years, and which, unencumbered by weights and 
springs, and such " foolery," will maintain itself as well for 
a century as a day : its power and velocity, he asserts, are 
equal to anything. — (The " Imperial Magazine," 1823.) 

Mr. Gill, as chairman of the Mechanical Section of the 
Society of Arts, having, in Thomson's " Annals of Philosophy,*' 

♦ The Pamphleteer, vol. 21, 1822. 
No. 41, Tract 8.— Considerations of the Police Report of 1816, &c. 
With a few words inducing towards the discovery of Perpetual Motion-^ 
perhaps the actual discovery thereof. Page 207. 

232 PERPETUUM mobile; 

1820, exposed an imposture, as already given, now, in his 
own Journal, has "Another pretended Perpetual Motion 
exposed :" — 

The puhlic are highly indebted to the spirited conduct of 
three respectable and scientific individuals, in suppressing a 
gross imposition upon the too easy credulity of the British 
public. The exhibition was in Fleet-street, and the admis- 
sion money demanded was two shillings for each person. It 
has been described to us (for we had not faith enough in the 
practicability of the thing to wish to see it) as consisting of 
two upright axes ; their upper and lower pivots turning in 
holes made through pieces of brass sufficiently thick to 
enclose any communicating powers from machinery placed 
either above or below the pivots, to intimate that no motion 
was conveyed to the axes through them. Upon one of the 
axes, two toothed wheels were fixed obliquely, which worked 
into a long pinion upon the other axis ; and upon the upper 
surface of one of the toothed wheels three inclined planes 
were fixed, having a small waggon or carriage upon each, 
with weights affixed to them ; and it was pretended, by the 
exhibitor, that these carriages, by their downward tendencies, 
were the real cause of the motion. This, however, was all 
pretence, and intended to divert the attention of the observers 
from the real source of motion. 

We have already stated that the pivots of the upright axes 
passed through thick pieces of brass. And it was evident 
that one or other of these pieces included two toothed wheels, 
the one upon the pivot which passed through it, and the 
other upon another axis, which derived its motion from a 
concealed spring movement, placed either above, or, more 
probably, below the pivot, in the support of the machine ; 
which spring was wound up from time to time, as its power 
became exhausted. One of the gentlemen ofiered to give 
the exhibitor a thousand pounds, provided he would suffer 
him to enclose the machine in a locked chest, and that it 
should be found to continue in motion one week afterwards. 
This he declined to accept ; but, upon their assuring him of 
their conviction of their being possessed of the true cause of 
its motion, twice did he refund the money he had taken from 
them ! They did not, however, stop here ; for, after detect- 
ing the imposition themselves, they thought it their duty to 


prevent the public from being farther imposed upon; and 
therefore they prepared a placard, and paid a person for 
carrying it up and down Fleet-street, to caution the public 
against being duped by any pretended perpetual motion. 
This had the effect of dislodging the proprietor from his first 
place of exhibition, and it was thought to have suppressed 
the delusion : but not so ; he soon recovered from his panic, 
and in his new placard announced that the real perpetual 
motion was only to be seen there : he also gave out that it 
was his intention soon to take out a patent for it ; and several 
gentlemen actually called upon the editor to inform him 
thereof. The exhibitor did not stop even there, but laid a 
complaint before the Lord Mayor, of the annoying conduct 
of the gentlemen who had detected the imposition ; but his 
Lordship, much to his credit and to the dismay of the quack, 
informed him that they had acted very properly ; that their 
conduct was highly praiseworthy ; and that, had they not 
done it, he should have found it necessary to have taken the 
same measure. 

We hope that we may now congratulate the public upon 
being freed from this imposture, which had, however, founa 
many believers in the possibility of the thing ; and we would 
seriously advise all persons, in future, to inquire into the 
causes which actuate these pretended self-movers, and not 
give themselves up to the expectation that such an invention 
will ever be discovered. 

The Society of Arts has been so very often annoyed by the 
claims of persons bringing pretended self-moving machines, 
or perpetual motions, before it, that it is about to offer a 
premium for the best demonstration of the utter impractica- 
bility of such a thing being ever accomplished. 

The imposture of another of these charlatans, who exhi- 
bited in the Burlington Arcade, was last year detected, and 
soon stopped, by the editor.* 

A conespondent writes Mr. Gill " On a pretended Per- 
petual Motion," which would appear to be the same he 
himself described in 1820 : — 

Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, Dec. 10, 1825 
Sir, — Some few years since a person exhibited in Bury a 

• The Technical Repository. By Thomas Gill. Vol. 1, 1822, p. 235. 


perpetual motion, or pretended perpetual motion, of which 
the maintaining power was magnetism. The inTention con- 
dinted of two horse -shoe magnets, fixed in a horizontal plane, 
with their poles opposite to each other, and a few inches 
aparC Between them was placed a small needle similar to 
that of a compass ; but, instead of the cap and point sus- 
pension, it was fixed at right angles to a light perpendicular 
axis, and it was pretended that the powers of attraction and 
repulsion of the two magnets kept the needle in a perpetual 
and very rapid rotatory motion. Between the two poles of 
each magnet was fixed a small block of a black substance, 
which, the exhibitor asserted, was a mixture of metals pos- 
sessing the power of intercepting the magnetic influence ; 
but beyond this, he was, or pretended to be, entirely igno- 
rant of the principle of the invention, which he stated was 
not the fruit of his own ingenuity, but of some person whose 
name I forget, and who bequeathed it to him on his death- 
bed. Accidentally meeting with some numbers of the 
" Mechanics' Magazine," a few days since, I found a descrip- 
tion of a perpetual motion which, I have no doubt, is the 
very same ; but there is no attempt at explaining the prin- 
ciple upon which it is constructed. As you have already 
exposed one or two impositions of this kind, perhaps you 
will not deem the one I have attempted to describe below 
your notice. If it were a perpetual motion, as many 
imagine, it seems deserving of consideration for its great 
ingenuity ; and if not, a detection of the fraud may serve, in 
some measure, to prevent similar impositions. * * 

Your obedient servant, 

A. E. 

Obseevations by the Editob. — We must own that we 
cannot possibly conceive what benefit can be derived from 
the continual publication of pretended perpetual motions ! 
They merely serve to gratify that perverted appetite for the 
marvellous, which, unfortunately for true science, is always 
too much prevalent.* 

[He concludes by mentioning the rapid movements pro- 
duced by electro-magnetism.] 

The Technical Repository. By Thomas Gill. Vol. 9, 1826, p. 56, 


In the ** Quarterly Review " appeared an able article oa 
" The Century of Inventions of the Marquis of Worcester, 
from the Original MS.; with Historical and Explanatory 
Notes, and a Biographical Mennoir. By C. F. Partington, &c. 
London, 1825." 

The following selections are made from the review of this 
work, as being pertinent to the object of the present work. 
As regards the ** Century," the critic remarks : — 

It has frequently been asserted — but on grounds too weak 
to warrant any such supposition — that these "Inventions" of 
the Marquess were mere assumptions set down at random ; 
and that he never had by experiment performed any one of 
them, nor intended that they should, either by himself or 
others, be performed. Hume, who does not even know the 
title of his book, boldly pronounces it (the ** Century'*) ** a 
ridiculous compound of lies, chimeras, and impossibilities;** 
and Walpole, in his " Royal and Noble Authors," designates 
the Marquess as a '* fantastic projector and mechanic." With 
his too frequent disregard of truth, he asserts what is in 
direct contradiction to historical fact ; he was a prejudiced 
writer, and, like some others more celebrated for their literary 
attainments than for scientific knowledge, affected to despise 
and undervalue what he did not understand. 

There are some circumstances, however, it must be con- 
fessed, which lead one to conclude that his projects were 
wholly disregarded at the time. The Royal Society had then 
been some years in existence. Sir Isaac Newton, Boyle, 
Wilkins, Hook, and other learned and ingenious men, were 
living, and eagerly pursuing philosophical researches ; yet no 
notice appears to have been taken by any of them of the 
Marquess's pretensions. Could it be that the mysterious and 
empirical terms in which his inventions are stated caused them 
to be disregarded ? True it is, he was poor ; and it is clear, 
from the Act passed in his favour, that his object was, and 
indeed it is so expressed, ** to enable his heirs, for 99 years, 
to receive the sole benefit, profit, and advantage resulting 
from his * water-commanding engine,' " — but his poverty was 
greatly, if not altogether, occasioned by his father's loyalty to 
two sovereigns. 


[The reyiewer then, alluding to the Marquis's imprisonment 
in Ireland in Charles the First's time, and in the Tower when 
Charles the Second ascended the throne, ably upholds his 
character for both genius and piety. After a dissertation of 
some length on the steam engine^ be proceeds to say : — 

The wonderful wheel described in No. 56 — whicb is, as 
the Marquess says, " a most incredible thing if not seen ** — is 
an attempt at what has been tried by thousands, and which 
will yet be tried by thousands more. The failure of such a 
number will not deter others from wasting their time and sub- 
stance to no purpose in the discovery of a perpetual motion 
— a property the power of which is vested solely in the Great 
Author of the universe, and exists only, as far as we know, in 
the arrangement of the planetary system. No charge of 
quackery, however, can fairly be laid against the Marquess on 
this score, as the wisest men of his time, and both before and 
after him, have split upon the same rock. Now at last, how- 
ever, the squaring of the circle, the finding of the longitude, 
and the discovery of perpetual motion are the stumbling- 
blocks mostly of feeble minds, set in action by that dangerous 
thing, " a little learning." 

There are a few, but not many, of the ** scantlings " 
which may justify Lord Orford's ill-natured remark ; for 
instance, No. 25, which runs thus : — '* How to make a weight 
that cannot take up an hundred pounds, and yet shall take 
up two hundred pounds, and at the self- same distance from 
the centre ; and so on, proportionably, to millions of pounds." 
This is, at least, in its present state, unintelligible. It is 
'" paradoxical," and so completely contrary to every esta- 
blished principle or rule in science, that we may fairly set it 
down among the marvellous, contributing to bring the whole 
" Century" into disrepute. Mr. Partington's little volume 
will, however, prevent this.* 

* The Quarterly Review, vol. 32, 1825, 8vo., pp. 397-410. 




The '* Mechanics' Magazine," which commenced in 1823, 
gave great facilities to artizans and others to communicate 
their views; and the following abstracts of lectures, papers, 
letters, and editorial notices, evidence how much this subject 
has been discussed in the pages of that journal. For con- 
venience, in perusing them, they are given both in the order 
of their dates and arranged under the following heads : — 
First, all relating to the Possibility, and, secondly, those 
asserting the Impossibility, of Perpetual Motion; then, 
thirdly. Plans ; fourthly. Alleged Discoveries ; and, fifthly. 
Impostures. Two papers from American journals are 
appended to these in their proper places, a review of Sir 
William Congreve's pamphlet, and a notice relating to Hen- 

Section I. — Its Possibility Asserted, 

T. H. Pasley (vol. 2) writes, June, 1824 :— 

I feel no hesitation in standing up in support of this grand 
desideratum — this almost forsaken friend of science, — whether 
the thing be practicable or not. 

[Under the impression that this problem is of great value 
to science in general, and that there is no occasion to dis- 
hearten those who try to find it out, he says : — ] 

On the contrary, " Persevere " should be every one's advice ; 
to do so, or discontinue, every one's own pleasure. And why 
should the impossibility of anything be pronounced unless it 
be established wherein the limits of possibility consist } 

238 PESPBTUVM mobile; 

[He has much original reasoning, and not very apropos, 
such as — ] 

It is puerile in the extreme to be foretelling defeat when 
so many other objects may be gained by the highly laudable 
pursuit, perhaps of greater advantage to society at large 
than the discovery in question. ***** 

In a word, were the perpetual motion discovered to-morrow, 
it would be wise of all the governments of the world to offer 
a very high reward for some species of discovery that would 
be universally sought after, although it might never be found 
out. * * * * [Adding:—] The effects of 
industry are — enlargement of the mind, accumulation of know- 
ledge, and rendering ourselves ignorant of the torments 
which idleness and dulness always engender. * * 

In the next place, there are no solid grounds for the assertion 
that the discovery of a perpetual motion is an impossibility. 
In the present state of human knowledge respecting the 
powers of nature, it is not demonstrable one way or another. 
* * * [And again : — '] The study of what 

relates to the perpetual motion has this great advantage, that 
it directs Ho the discovery of error as well as of truth ; 
whereas, what are they which are called truths of science at 
present but vacillating human opinions, or erroneous assump- 
tions of what we call natural causes ? What are they but 
such as consist in mere assumption, sanctioned by time, and 
admitted by existing authorities in science, and of course 
generally acquiesced in, without previous investigation } 

[Speaking of the " stern conditions on which alone the 
student in science can have his opinion listened to,*' he 
says : — ] 

So far, then, from being guided in our decision respecting 
what is possible by the " unerring laws of nature," by 
"mathematical demonstration," and by "experimental 
proofs," we are continually misled by an erroneous faith in 
the nonentity, attraction. 

[He attempts to show our acquaintance with " motion," 
and the *' cause " wherein " continued motion consists ; " 
then says : — ] 

On such an imperfect knowledge of the causes of phenomena, 


who should say he knows what can or what cannot be dis- 
covered ? 

[He seems to think there is some " true motion-making 
cause " which may be employed to produce perpetual motion 
on some species or other of mechanism.] 

A plan designed to accelerate the discovery of Perpetual 
Motion (vol. 4, 1825) :— 

[The writer remarks — ^" All that has or can be said will not 
amount to a proof of its impossibility." He then examines 
how, what were once thought impossibilities have of late 
been accomplished, as : — "] 

We can now, however, soar above the clouds, explore the 
depths of the ocean, and skim over its surface. * * 

A^d be it remembered that we owe these and many other 
advantages to a few persevering individuals who were, in all 
probability, stigmatised as chimerical visionaries by those 
who seem to have an unconquerable propensity to condemn 
everything above the level of their own understanding. 

If by perpetual motion nothing more is meant than the 
putting in motion some of the most durable substances with 
which we are acquainted, in such a manner as to ensure a 
continuance of motion as long as those substances will resist 
the effects of time and friction, I do not despair of seeing it 
accomplished. * * [He thinks there is] reasonable 
ground to hope that the time is not far distant when even 
this impossibility must yield to persevering ingenuity. In 
the present state of public opinion with regard to its practica- 
bility, it would be looked upon as an empty boast, were 1 to 
assert that the discovery is already made.* 

J. Welch (vol. 6, 1825) confesses himself a believer in the 
existence, or rather possibility of discovering, perpetual 
motion : — 

Those who condemn the notion altogether seem to have 

• The person who can raise a weight of 6 oz to the height of 13§ inches, 
merely by the descent of 4 oz. only 12 inches, ought to be allowed to assert 
that the discovery is made. 

240 PERPJBTUTJM mobile; 

taken but a very confined view of the subject. What they 
say about mere matter is right enough ; but they seem to 
forget that there are other active agents in nature which 
possess wonderful powers, that hare nothing to do with either 
bulk, weight, or form. Such are electricity, magnetic attrac- 
tion, capillary attraction, and the irregular pressure of the 
atmosphere. The powers of electricity are great, and, indeed, 
it seems to be the prtmum mobile that gives life and motion to 
the animated part of the creation. Dr. Franklin shows us how 
to give a circular coated plate, revolving on an axle, sufficient 
power to roast a chicken, merely by once changing (charging ?) 
it. Could not a plate of this kind be made to turn a small 
electrical apparatus, so situated as to keep the charge in the 
plate always at its maximum ? The whole might be kept dry 
by having it enclosed in a glass case. 

It has often been attempted to give motion to a wheel by the 
power of a loadstone, but hitherto without effect; no substance 
in nature being found to have the power, by interposition, of 
cutting off its attractive property. Still I think it should be 
further investigated. Is a small piece of steel in the form of 
a wedge as strongly attracted at the smaller end as at the 
thicker ? And would not twenty or thirty pieces of steel, of that 
form, placed round the circumference of a circle, the point of 
one towards the head of the other, cause a magnet placed in 
the centre, to revolve in the direction in which their points 
lie ? I think, perhaps not ; but still such experiments should 
be tried. 

In capillary attraction we have a power that at once raises 
fluids above their level. It is this which carries the oil up 
the wick of a lamp as fast as the flame consumes it. Water 
and other fluids rise through cotton even quicker than oil ; 
and he who can contrive to collect them as they arrive at the 
t(»p will discover perpetual motion. Would not water run 
constantly through a syphon, one leg of which was made of a 
collection of capillary tubes, and the other in the usual way ? 
or would the water above and below the tubes neutralise and 
destroy their power ? 

I now come to the pressure of the atmosphere, a thing 
easily understood. * * * * Make a cast-iron 
barometrical tube, with a top sufficiently large to contain 
2 cwt. of mercury ; invert it in a basin large enough to con- 
tain 2 or 3 cwt. more, and let a piece of iron of 10 or 12 


stones weight float on the mercury in this basin, so as to rise 
and fall along with it at every change of the weather. We 
have here both motion and power. The motion, indeed, will 
sometimes stand still, but then it can easily be regulated, and 
made a constant quantity in the machine to be attached. I 
have no doubt but clocks, &c., may be made to derive their 
chiming principle from a contrivance of this nature. 

H. Todd (vol. 8, 1827) says :— 

* * * Many of your readers seem to have imbibed 
very erroneous opinions on this grand desideratum, both as 
regards its utility and its practicability. 

First, It is supposed by many that, when it can be found, 
very many useful and entirely new effects will be produced. 
This is an error ; for, if it should be discovered, no advan- 
tage of this kind would follow, as it is the regularity of 
motion, not the perpetuity of it, that would be advantageous 
or useful. Mere motion in perpetuity would be of no avail, or, 
at least, not worth the expense of erecting any machine 
to continue it in another form. The determination of 
the longitude, which many so fully anticipate, would be 
as far distant as ever. Perpetual motion can, in fact, 
be obtained by a common watch, by winding it regularly up 
(for it is perpetual if it never stops till the works are worn 
out); but the chronometer is no nearer perfection on that 
account. Some also seem to entertain an idea that a reward 
from the English Government awaits the discoverer of the 
perpetual motion. This is only imaginary, as no such reward 
ever was or could be offered for what would benefit no one. 
True it is, that the person who discovers a certain way of 
finding the longitude, in any or every place (chiefly on the 
sea), will be entitled to a reward from the Commissioners of 
Longitude, let that method be what it may ; and as perfect 
regularity of motion would make a perfect chronometer in 
itself, such perfect regularity, if found, would be the means 
of obtaining the longitude, setting aside perpetuity, as of 
little or no consequence in the affair. Hence, the makers of 
chronometers turn their attention always to the perfection of 
the regulation part of the machine ; for if a common watch, 
to be wound up daily, could be made to show mean time 
truly, it would be infinitely superior to any chronometer or 

242 PERPETuuM mobile; 

timepiece wanting regulation, though it required to be wound 
up once in seven years, or in one hundred years, or went 
perpetually without being wound up at all. 

Next, as to the practicability of perpetual motion, though 
so many doubt it, I, with several others, not only assert that 
it is practicable, but that it has already been found out, or 
discovered, and, as appears to me, in the most satisfactory 
manner possible : I do not mean by mechanical powers 
alone, but with their assistance, conjoined with the powers of 
nature. We need not examine into the pretended inventions, 
whether patent or otherwise, of those authors who assert the 
discovery by mechanism alone. 

[He then copies, as "the complete reason" of this, from 
" the celebrated B. Martin, in his ' Philosophical Grammar,' 
p. 125."] 

The incredulous on this head, though zealous in the cause, 
have nevertheless pursued their desires this way ; and the 
Patent Office at Washington, in the United States of America, 
is adorned with models patented as perpetual motions, but 
standing there motionless as the models of all the other 
patents about them. 

[After describing the wheel by Dr. Shiviers,* he says : — ] 

OF this, nothing more was heard of (as I can find) from 
the time of its discovery or publication ; but this does by no 
means forbid the employment of mechanics united with other 
means. There are several parts of nature which of them- 
selves are perpetual motion, and require only mechanics to 
regulate them. First, there is the lise and fall of the tides ; 
second, the waves of the sea ; third, the wind ; fourth, the 
variation of weight of the atmosphere ; fifth, electrici«^y ; 
sixth, expansion and contraction, by heat and cold, &c., &c.; 
nor does the art appear so much in applying them to ma- 
chines, as the regulating the motions when so applied. Of 
the practicability, however, there can be no doubt. By per- 
petual motion, as it is generally understood, I mean a machine 
once set in motion, that will go without any further human 
assistance till the works are worn out by time or its materials 

• Read — Schwiers. 


decay. Now, this, I again repeat, has already been accom- 
plished, and that by a Mr. Coxe, a celebrated mechanist, and, 
I believe, maker of various other automata, as to have a 
museum formed of them. As this was exhibited to the 
public, about the middle of the last century, for several 
years, it must have been generally known at that time. 
(I think this was the most celebrated of his- works.) The 
only account I can at this time give of it is this : — ^it was 
a watch, capped, jewelled, and protected from friction in 
every part as much as possible ; without any main-spring, 
the inventor so applied it to the mercury in a barometer 
attached to it, that the rise and fall of the mercury gave 
motion to the timepiece or watch ; and the best part of the 
invention was, that if the barometer were taken away, the 
timepiece would go a year without it, — ^if applied, the power 
would continue it ; and it had a contained self-regulator, to 
let off or adjust dl excess of power caused by the rise^ and 
fall of the barometer. 

[He begs some reader to forward an account of it, and 
adds : — ] 

I do not know whether Coxe's Museum was exhibited 
before or after Martin's Museum, which I believe also 
consisted of automata. 

Thus was perpetual motion discovered, — ^for such it was in 
every sense of the word ; and that it is feasible in other 
ways, I think no one can doubt. The chief ingenuity in 
Mr. Coxe was in applying the perpendicular difference of 
height in the column, caused by the variations of the atmo- 
sphere's weight, with a self-regulator. I do not recollect 
whether it was regulated to that perfection as to keep to 
mean time : its being perpetual motion did not of necessity 
imply this, though, perhaps, it came as near it as any other 
chronometer on the steel-spring construction. 

[He says: — "The engraving showed, chiefly, the front 

The waves of the sea could certainly be applied to produce 
a regulated perpetual motion ; and I have read somewhere, 
though my memory at this instant does not assist me in 
particulars, that a Frenchman had made a mill or some ma- 
chine to be wrought by the waves only. I think it is related 

244 PERPETUUM mobile; 

in some of their Society Transactions. The rise and fall of 
the tides would also make a constancy or perpetuity of motion, 
wanting a self-regulator. There are tide-mUls on the Thames 
and other places. And I now hear that a Frenchman has 
invented a timepiece set in motion hy the wind, which, on 
the principle of Coxe's barometer-watch above-mentioned, 
probably has sufficient wind in any one week, or month, to 
supply it for a year, and a kind of self-adjusting escape to 
let off the surplus power ; and which is to all intents and 
purposes actual perpetual motion. I might refer to many 
other things, more curious than useful, causing differences by 
themselves ; as of contraction and expansion by cold and 
heat — accumulation and exhaustion, as by rain and evapora- 
tion, as to a variety of natural causes ; any of which, if the 
necessary self-regulating mechanism were applied, would 
perform a similar continuity of action, and which would as 
certainly be perpetual motion, though of no use. For the 
winding up of a clock, as a prime mover, can be regulated 
much easier than any other machine yet known. Metals are 
found to expand every way, but wood only in the width of 
the fibre ; hence, a wooden pendulum has not yet been found, 
I believe, to expand only across the grain (which is of no 
consequence), and not in length. 

[He concludes with advising " not to attempt perpetual 

motion alone; next, that perpetual motion, of itself, is of 

little or no use unless it can be duly or properly regulated ; 

and that a regulation of any of the present known powers 

will be of more service than perpetual motion itself, when 

alone found.''] 

• ••••• 

I remain, your constant reader, 

H. Todd. 

Review of Papers on Perpetual Motion (vol. 11, 
1829). By an anonymous correspondent : — 

[His review is necessarily abridged, and is only given in 
consequence of its author professing to be a practical me- 
chanic of some experience.] 

To begin, then, I boldly affirm that to be possible which is 


now universally denied to be so — ^namely, perpetual motion 
by mechanism. * * * Having made this 

bold assertion, I shall proceed to make some remarks on 
what has been said to the contrary. 

[He commences with vol. 4, and notices the several schemes 
therein. Also Emerson's Proposition 118, Corollary.] 

I believe it was Emerson's idea, and I conceive it to be a 
general one, that if a body, or a system of bodies, could be made 
to revolve on an infinitely small axis, or a point of suspension 
placed in its centre of gravity, without any friction whatever, 
and that the body or system were put in motion in an unre- 
sisting medium, that motion would be continued by its vis 
inertia^ even when that motion proceeded from a momentary 
impulse ; but as the effect of friction and the resisting 
medium is, in practical mechanism, an insurmountable 
obstacle, his corollary holds good thus far, and no farther. 

[After noticing the Finch Lane imposition, Philo-Montis, 
and T. Bell, he states :— ] 

I have looked into Dr. Hutton's " Mathematical Recrea- 
tions," referred to by T. B. Dr. Hutton generally observes : 
— " The perpetual motion has been the quicksands of mecha- 
nicians, as the quadrature of a circle, the trisection of an 
angle, &c., has been that of the geometricians ; and as those 
who pretend to have discovered the solution of the latter 
problem are persons scarcely acquainted with geometry, 
those who search for the perpetual motion are always men 
to whom the most certain and invariable truths in mechanics 
are unknown." 

[He does not like the style here adopted, saying : — " It 
falls heavy on smatterers — a character I never professed to 

Dr. H. goes on to observe (and it will be necessary to 
dissect his arguments, to get at his meaning) : — " It may be 
demonstrated to all capable of reasoning in a sound manner 
on those sciences, that a perpetual motion is impossible." 
How ? Why, " it is necessary the effect should become the 
cause, and the cause the effect." Assertion to prove asser- 
tion. Perhaps it is necessary — ^perhaps not; but then we 

^ 246 PERPETUUM mobile; 

have an example : — " A weight raised to a certain height by 
another weight, should, in its turn, raise the second weight 
to the height from which it descended.'* Be it so ; still, it 
does not follow that this is necessary to perpetual motion. 
"According to the laws of motion, all that a descending 
weight can do, in the most perfect machine the mind of man 
can conceive, is to raise another weight in the same time to 
a height proportioned to its mass " — that is, by the most 
perfect machine the mind of man can conceive ; so that the 
argument comes to this : — ^human ingenuity has not hitherto 
been able to go beyond this point, which is necessary to pro- 
duce perpetual motion. But, whether it is necessary or no, 
the Doctor extends it to this : — it is impossible to produce 
perpetual motion by any means the mind of man can con- 
ceive ; so that the Doctor, it seems, has made a discovery 
equal, perhaps, to the one in question — ^namely, a knowledge 
of the utmost extent of the energies of the mind of man ! 
But he has not yet drawn his conclusion, as he goes on to 
explain why a machine cannot continue its motion when acted 
on by equal weights on each side the centre of motion (as I 
assume his arguments are confined to that view of the ques- 
tion) ; and he evidently falls into the common error before 
noticed, of applying his maxima beyond their sphere of applica- 
bility, building his argument on the corollary of Emerson's, 
already alluded to. 

♦ ♦ « # ♦ ♦ 

I After alluding to the schemes of " T. B.," " P.," and 
" H. Todd," he goes on to say : — '] 

I have mentioned these three schemes together, introduc- 
tory to an inquiry I wish to make respecting a principle 
which I conceive they embrace. Their projectors seem to 
have assumed that if two equal weights be placed at the end 
of a lever or balance of unequal arms, and be made to move 
on a centre or axis, the descending weight always moving in 
the circumference of a circle whose radius is equal to the 
longest arm, then, if by any means the ascending weight 
could be carried up through the perpendicular diameter, or 
near to it, by the action of the lever, the descending weight 
would always preponderate after it had once left its perpen- 
dicular direction, and the equilibrium which would take 


place at the perpendicular be destroyed by a succession of 
similar levers and weights. I ask, would this be the case ? 
I am aware of arguments that may be used to show that 
there would be no more than an equilibrium when the actions 
of the diflferent levers are combined at equal distances from 
one another, and the weights made to preserve an uniformity 
in their angular velocity ; but if those arguments are no other 
than what I can anticipate, I have doubts of their applica- 
bility. I will venture to ask two questions : — The first is : 
What is the difference, or is there any, in the effective force 
or the momentum of a weight falling through the perpen- 
dicular diameter of a circle, and of the same or an equal 
weight falling through the semi-circumference of the same 
circle, at the end of a lever moving freely on the centre, 
without any counterpoise ? The second is : What am I to 
understand by the expression, " The cycloid is the curve of 
swiftest descent ; or a heavy weight will fall from one given 
point to another, by the way of the arc of a cycloid, in a less 
time than by any other route ?" and does it admit that these 
points may be perpendicular to a horizontal line ? 

Now comes our champion, Sir Wm. Congreve, of whose 
plan I shall say but little ; it meets my ideas in almost every 

[After commenting on the Baronet's plan, he adds : — "] 

As to the words that, in mechanical operations, " no duty 
can be performed without a correspondent loss of efficiency," 
though they may be the words of one of our most celebrated 
mathematicians, I cannot help being so uncourteous as to say 
* * * they " are not worth a tush." No one can 
have more respect for men who excel in scientific pursuits 
than myself — they are to me as demigods ; but when I look 
up to them for instruction, and receive it in unintelligible 
language, I cannot help lamenting the infatuation that should 
induce them to throw a veil over scientific subjects, as though 
they were (like some others) thoughts too sacred for the eye or 
the ear of the multitude ; and, by this means, when they would 
wish to convey information, run the risk of proving the maxim 
in a literal sense — ^perform a duty with a corresponding loss 
of efficiency. 

248 PEKPETxruM mobile; 

[He proceeds to notice other schemes, and then gives the 
following : — ] 

Pkoposition. — ^In what way may a body, or rather a 
system of bodies, be impelled or made to move on an hori- 
zontal plane by the force of pressure alone, the source of 
pressure being within the system, or the first mover being 
a weight, or weights, forming a part thereof ? 

I do not presume to say that such a thing is possible, 
though I have dreamt such a conclusion Jmay be drawn from 
the composition and resolution of forces. I should like to 
see a demonstration of the contrary. If this proposition is a 
possibility, perpetual motion easily follows. 

When a subject is involved in imcertainty, the greater the 
number of opinions that are taken on it the more likely is the 
system to be unravelled; even though many of those opinions 
may be in the greatest part erroneous, still, they tend to 
place the subject considered in so many diflferent points of 
view as to add materially to the facility of its investigation. 

[On Mr. Nicholson's remark that he has " met with no 
clear enunciation of this project so general as to include every 
possible scheme,'* he says : — "] 

Certainly not ; nor will any one else, until every possible 
scheme be produced, which is not likely to be very soon the 

[He has been speaking of the " want of direct and concise 
demonstrations of the fundamental principles of the lever, 
&c." Then comes an extract "from a short essay in a 
scarce volume of tracts, by H. Hamilton, D.D., F.R.S., and 
Professor of Philosophy in the University of Dublin. He 
says :" — "] 

" The many useful instruments that have been so ingeniously 
invented and so successfully executed, and the great perfec- 
tion to which the mechanic arts are now arrived, would 
incline one to think that the true principles on which the 
efficacy and operations of the several machines depend 
must long since have been accurately explained ; but this is 
by no means a necessary inference, for, however men may 
differ in their opinions about the true method of accounting 


for the effects of the several machines, yet the practical 
principles of mechanics are so perfectly known by experience 
and observation, that the artist is thereby enabled to contrive 
and adjust the movements of his engines with as much 
certainty and success as he could do were he thoroughly 
acquainted with the laws of motion, from which the principles 
may be ultimately derived. However, though an inquiry 
into the true method of deducing the practical principles of 
mechanics from the laws of motion should not contribute 
much to promote the progress of the mechanic arts, yet it is 
an inquiry in itself usefiil, and in some measure necessary ; 
for, since late authors have used very different methods of 
treating this subject, it may be supposed that no one method 
has been looked on as satisfactory and imexceptionable. The 
most noted theorem in mathematics is this: 'When two 
heavy bodies counterpoise each other by means of any 
machine, and are then made to move together, the quantities 
of motion with which one descends and the other ascends 
perpendicularly will be equal.' An equilibrium always 
accompanying this equality of motion bears such a resem- 
blance to the case where two moving bodies stop each other 
when they meet together with equal quantities of motion, 
that many writers have thought that the cause of an equi- 
librium in the several machines may be immediately assigned 
by saying that since one body always loses as much motion as 
it commimicates to another, two heavy bodies counteracting 
each other must continue at rest, when they are so circum- 
stanced that one cannot descend without causing the other to 
ascend at the same time, and with the same quantity of 
motion ; for then, should one of them begin to descend, it 
must instantly lose its whole motion by communicating it to 
the other. This argument, however plausible it may seem, 
I think is by no means satisfactory ; for when we say that 
one body communicates its motion to another, we must 
necessarily suppose the motion to exist first in the one and 
then in the other ; the descending body cannot be said to 
communicate its motion to the other, and thereby make 
it ascend; but whatever, we should suppose, causes one 
body to descend, must be also the immediate cause of the 
other's ascending, since, from the connexion of the bodies, it 
must act on them both together, as if they were really but 
one. And, therefore, without contradicting the laws of 

260 PERPETUUM mobile; 

motion, I might suppose the superior weight of the heavier 
body, which is in itself more than able to sustain the lighter, 
would overcome the lighter, and cause it to ascend with the 
same quantity of motion with which the heavier descends, 
especially as both their motions taken together may be less 
than what the difference of the weights, which is here sup- 
posed to be the moving force, would be able to produce in a 
body falling freely. However, as the theorem above men- 
tioned is a very elegant one, it certainly ought to be taken 
notice of in every treatise on mechanics, and may serve as a 
very good index of an equilibrium in all machines ; but I do 
not think that we can from thence, or from any one general 
principle, explain the nature and effects of all the mechanic 
powers in a satisfactory manner, because some of these 
machines differ very much from others in their structures, 
and the true reason of the efficacy of each of them is best 
derived from its particular structure." 

As these remarks perfectly agree with my own ideas on 
this subject, I may be allowed to draw this conclusion, that 
from hence it follows it may be possible to construct a 
machine whose effects are not to be easily or satisfactorily 
explained on any one general principle ; and that, after all, 
experience must take place of theory. 

[Of the wind, the tides, &c., he remarks : — " as I before 
observed, are an approximation, but not a solution, of the 

Tn vol. 12 (1829-30) appears the annexed commimica- 
tion : — 

The following is an extract from the letter of an esteemed 
correspondent, to whom our readers have been indebted for 
many valuable contributions to our pages : — 

I now send you a copy of a memorandum I have placed 
among a great number of papers, diagrams, notes, &c., on the 
subject of perpetual motion, but all unintelligible to any one 
but myself. " Infatuation all," you will say ; but though I 
might not be able to deny this charge in toto^ yet this I will 
say, I can demonstrate the possibility of perpetual motion by 
the action of material bodies on one another, aided by the con- 


stantly existing powers of nature, made available to that pur- 
pose. The memorandum is as follows : — 

Query -^Wk^t ought to be the reward for the invention of a 
continual self-acting power which may be increased at pleasure 
and without limitation, excepting that of the strength of 
materials acted upon by their own weight ? That this is 
possible and practicable I am now convinced, and that there is 
no law of nature or even theorem in the science of mechanics 
which goes to controvert the assertion. But the principles on 
which it may be effected, and particularly the practical means, 
have hitherto eluded the researches of the ingenious of all ages 
to the present hour, and now lie concealed in the breast of an 
individual who may possibly, from neglect and want of 
encouragement, be induced to relinquish a pursuit thedevelope- 
ment of which would confer an incalculable benefit on man- 
kind, and the loss of which may require ages yet to come to 

That the above is the unequivocal and sincere opinion of the 
writer is attested by his own hand this 25th of February, 1829. 

In vol. 13 (1830) there is a conditional engagement to 
construct twenty models : — 

The submitter of the following proposals having, for some 
years, been prepossessed with an idea of being able to invent a 
self-moving machine, or, at least, one moved by the power of 
gravity, acting obliquely over the centre or axis of its motion, 
and having now the most sanguine hopes of success, but not 
the pecuniary means of carrying on his experiments, which he 
has hitherto done with his own hands to a great extent, on 
scientific principles, according with original practical ideas 
(arising from experience) to the best of his knowledge, exclu- 
sively his own, begs leave to submit to encouragers of 
ingenuity the following proposal : — He solicits a subscription 
of £20, for which he would engage to produce 20 experi- 
mental models of machines illustrative of his ideas, differing 
in form and appearance, but each equally curious. In case of 
non-success in his attempts, the models to be presented to the 
London Mechanics^ Institution, or disposed of as a majority of 
the subscribers may direct. In case of success, ample re- 
muneration would be in his power, and the subscription 


returned, or a model of the successful machine furnished to 
each subscriber of £1. 

P.S. — The proposer has several ingenious ideas of inventions 
of a highly useful nature, which would, at all events, be greatly 
promoted by the experimental trials for which this subscription 
is solicited; and for a claim to a talent for ingenious specula- 
tion, he begs leave to refer to the Editor of the " Mechanics* 
Magazine," by whom, and by the publisher of the magazine, 
subscriptions will be received. 


The Editor of the '* Mechanics* Magazine " .. ..£1 1 

A few friends of the Editor 1 1 

T. B 5 

One of like faith 026 

London, July 9, 1830. 

Arguments por and against the possibility op 
Perpetual Motion; including an Apology for a certain 
Perpetual Motion Seeker (vol. 14, 1831) :— 

/'Yes ; we shall conquer ! All those dangers past 
Will serve to enrich the future story." 

A correspondent says : — 

The application to the subject, on my part, has been accom- 
panied by continual experimental elucidations of the subjects 
considered, and comparisons of these with the axioms, 
theorems, and demonstrations of one of the best authorities^ if I 
may be allowed so to call my favourite author, Emerson, whose 
I says are generally correct. 

I disagree with Mr. B., and do trust that even a perpetual 
motion seeker might deserve encouragement, if it be found that 
such a character may exist in a person who is not so ignorant 
of first principles as Mr. B, supposes cdl are who have this 
bias; especially if it be found that the person's researches have 
been connected with subjects of a more tangible nature, 
relating to the improvement of the useful arts, and particularly 
to some modern inventions of high importance that are not 
perfectly correct in their construction. 

In this article, Mr. B, advises those who are misspending 
their time in this pursuit, to consider the question in its most 
simple form, divested of more complicated operations, which 



simple form is that of a pulley accurately constructed so as to 
reduce the resistance to motion as much as possible. He says, 
*' it will be found, as long as the weights are equal," there 
will be no motion produced, but wherever the weights are 
placed they will remain ; and to produce vertical motion in 
the smallest degree, it will be necessary to add a weight to one 
of the former to create a preponderancy. This weight he calls 
the mechanical loss, and an insurmountable bar to perpetual 
motion, &c. We need not follow Mr. B, to his conclusion, as 
I think this insurmountable bar can be easily removed ; and I 
shall be able to show that this equilibrium, for^such it merely 
is, can be destroyed] without adding to one of the weights, or 
absolutely taking from the other; though this may virtually be 
considered to be the case, inasmuch as we c^n at least produce 
an effect on the system as if the weight were reduced. Mr. B. 
Sftys, under this arrangement, "wherever the weights are 
placed they will remain, unless an addition is made to one of 
them." We will therefore suppose the following diagram to 
represent the arrangement on a small scale, delicately con- 

A B^ are the two weights connected 
to each other by the string passing 
over the pulley, and being nicely 
equalized in their weight, here would, 
of course, be an equilibrium on the 
principle of the lever. But take a flat 
piece of wood, such as a ruler, and 
place it obliquely in a way so as not to 
interfere with the pulley m in the direc- 
tion c?, and then bring the weight to 
impinge upon it in a way so as not to 
move the weight A m, C c?, the least, or 
alter its position. What will be the 
consequence ? Some would say, why, 
the weight A would then descend, and 
cause the weight B to ascend. But 
I should rather say, the re-action of the 
plane when acted on by the weight B, 
having destroyed the equilibrium of the 
forces, motion takes place. Now, if 
we attribute this motion to the re-action 


of the plane on the weight, though we will not go so far 
as to say motion is generated, yet if we say, by this simple 
arrangement the equilibrium is destroyed and motion takes 
place, the leaftt we can admit is, that motion is communicated 
to the system, and that by the agency of part of the machine 
itself, the apparatus employed being considered as such: Then, 
why so much objection to the term self-moving machine in 
limited sense ? But I will not dispute about words, which are 
but the imai^es of things, and images may be strangely distorted 
by the medium through which they are received — of which 
distorting mediums, there is none equal to that of prejudice in 
favour of abstract notions— which notions perhaps, if rigidly 
examined, would be found to have no foundation in facts or in 
common sense. 

Another demonstrator of the impossibility of perpetual 
motion, is Mr. Mackinnon (see " Mech. Mag.," vol. 1, p. 363). 
As no doubt the different attempts to produce, or communicate, 
continued and perpetual motion, at least, such as are often 
brought forward by persons unacquainted with the science of 
mechanics, are generally to those who are acquainted with that 
science, if not absolutely ridiculous, yet of a nature to excite a 
smile at their futility: still there are a few (perhaps a very 
few) who entertain an opinion that such a thing is not imprac- 
ticable, and who have, from practical experience as well as 
study, acquired a tolerable insight into the laws of nature (so 
far as relate to this subject); who in their turn cannot help 
smiling at the weak reasoning of some other would-be philo- 
sophers, who gravely give their dictum in the case. In this 
class I include Mr. Mackinnon, who very gravely goes to 
work to prove, &c., and flatters himself he shall, if rightly un- 
derstood, help to prevent much future waste of time on the 
subject. He then goes on to give us his definition of inertia, 
by which he informs us that a body in a state of rest will 
remain so until it is moved (wonderful !) — that it cannot move 
itself — that it has not that power — and that no mechanical con- 
trivance can give it that power. (How profound !) * * 

Inquiry into the possibility of Perpetual Motion 
(vol. 14, 1831):— 

Proposition. — That a wheel can be made to possess more 


force in its first revolution than is in the spring that moved it 
(provided the moving power is not too much or too little) by 
only making it heavy enough and regulating its diameter ; and 
that this increase of power goes on ad infinitum. To demon- 
strate this will be to demonstrate the possibility of perpetual 

First, then, " The moment of any moving body may be con- 
sidered «6 a sum of all the moments of the parts of that body," 
and the expansion of a substance increa«es the resistance of the 
air to Its motion by exposing more surface. Now, a wheel of 
a ton weight possesses as much force, when put in motion, as a 
thousand small ones made of its contents would possess, while 
it is less resisted by the air, as it has less surface exposed to it. 

Secondly, The impediment of friction to a wheel's motion 
increases with the circumference of the axis (as proved by 
balancing a beam, which, if balanced on a sharp edge, the least 
touch will move it), and vice versa. Now, if a wheel of a ton 
weight be divided into a thousand small ones, the axis suflicient 
to support that wheel must be divided as well into a thousand 
small bars. The large wheel, moved with the collected force 
of the thousand small ones, while it was less resisted by the 
friction as the circumference of its axis, was less than a sum of 
the circumferences of the thousand small ones. Besides, one- 
thousandth part of the large axis is not sufficient to support 
one-thousandth part of the wheel's weight, as a beam of four 
equal sides will support a greater weight than if split into 
boards and laid flat. So a small wheel must have a greater 
axis in proportion to its weight than a large one ; consequently 
it possesses more friction in proportion to its power. And as 
the wheel is increased, the power increases, for " the motion of 
all matter is as its quantity," without a proportional increase 
of resistance from the air or friction. 

Thirdly, It is granted that when a wheel is put in motion, 
that motion would be perpetual only for the resistance of the air 
and friction. Well, all the force it possesses is present in the 
first revolution, and can be used to reproduce the moving cause 
while the resistance can be almost avoided, for it only is 
produced as the wheel revolves. 

I was led by this course of reasoning to make the following 
experiments. 1. Three wheels, of various sizes, were put in 

256 PEBPETUTJM mobile; 

motion by a force equal to the one-ei£rhth of their respective 
weights ; the smallest was stopped in its first revolution by the 
same weight that moved it ; the next in size took once and a 
half; and the largest wheel took twice the moving power to 
stop it. 2. A wheel, two feet in diameter, had various 
weights fixed alternately to its periphery, and the weight let 
fall from the perpendicular, the greater the weight on the 
wheel, the nearer was it brought round toward the point from 
which it fell, until the weight was increased to two pounds; 
here the principal began to diminish until the diameter of the 
wheel was increased — when increase of weight increased the 
moment as before. So, there is a certain diameter as well as 
weight to be considered, 

Robert Twiss, Jun. 
P.S. — Much depends on the organic structure in lessening 
the size of the machine. I have three models (one moved by a 
spring, and the rest by a weight) for the inspection of any 
person disposed to put this plan into execution. In one the 
power of the lever is present in two places, and in another a 
weight acts on the whole during its entire revolution, and is 
replaced by being lifted only two or three inches. 

A POWERFUL Perpetual Motion. By W. Pearson 
(vol. 20, 1834) :— 

If I Tinderstand perpetual motion aright, it means that a 
machine, or other moving body, must be so constructed that 
it shall continually work itself without intermission. 

If my ideas of perpetual motion are correct, I am confident 
I have discovered it ; for I know a machine which will not 
only work itself, without the assistance of any person, but 
will also have a sufficient power to spare, to work any kind 
of machinery required. 

However, setting the question of perpetual motion entirely 
aside, here is a machine which can be applied to all the pur- 
poses steam is applied to, and free from any danger whatever 
— which is ready for starting at any moment, and, except the 
act of setting in motion and stopping, requires no farther 
attending to. 

The contrivance is so simple that I can calculate the gain 
and loss of every part of it ; and am positive that what is 


now considered a very small engine, if constructed on my 
plan, after deducting sufficient power to keep itself in motion, 
will have to spare, over and above, about 100 stones pressure, 
which may be applied to any required work ; and, by en- 
larging its dimension, it may be made of any given power. 

It will answer admirably for propelling vessels across the 
seas, as they are now done by steam; and as no fuel is 
needed, it certainly is a desideratum. The engine is much 
more compact, and will be free of that uncomfortable heat 
which is so much felt in steamers. 

I do not think it proper, at present, to explain more parti- 
cularly the nature of this machine, for I believe there are 
people in the world who would not scruple to take advantage 
of my labour and study. This being the case, I have not 
sent a drawing and description, as I first intended ; but if 
any gentleman, merchant, mechanic, &c., of known integrity, 
who needs such an engine, or wishes to know if it be possible 
to make one, will secure me, by a patent or any other suffi- 
cient means, an adequate return for the invention, I will 
prove to him by a drawing (if he knows anything about a 
machine) that it cannot fail to answer the desired end. 

It is not in my power to try it ; and yet an engine of this 
description will cost much less than a steam-engine of the 
same power, without any running expense for fuel, &c., 
upon it. 

Confident I am not mistaken, I will not shrink behind an 
anonymous signature, but openly, and at once, acknowledge 
myself as 

Yours, &c., 

William Peabson. 

Bishop Auckland, Jan. 6, 1834. 

P.S. — Many hold that it is impossible for a machine to 
expend the same power it works with ; but let me inform 
them that I have brought an ally into the field which does 
the most material part of the work, and yet requires no 
outlay of power in return. 

Self-acting Machineby. — ^W. Pearson (vol. 23, 1835) 
again writes : — 

The possibility of making a perpetual motion, or machinery 
to generate the power it works with, is affected to be treated 

258 PEBFETWH mobile; 

as an " idle chimera," equally vain and opposed to the well- 
established laws of nature and mechanics ; but in spite of 
this, perpetual motion seekers are more numerous than any 
superficial observer may imagine. Having already made an 
avowal of my confidence of the practicability of making self- 
acting machinery, I have had occasion to hear much said on 
the subject. Many with whom 1 have conversed, after 
quoting what this or that learned gentleman has said on the 
impossibility of the thing, have taken "heart of grace" from 
hearing me still profess my confidence in my plans, and at 
length acknowledge that they themselves turned their atten- 
tion to it at one time, and believed they could lay down plans 
by which self-acting machinery could be made to do such 
and such particular work ! One person, after *' beating 
about the bush " as above, alleged that he could *' make a 
wheel which would be able to turn a grunstane .'" Thus you 
see, Sir, perpetual motion seekers abound ; and though they 
pretend to laugh at the idea, yet are they secretly labouring 
to catch — ^what is it Bishop Wilkins calls it ? — the *' chaste 

I believe most of the engineers of the present day have 
been perpetual motion seekers ; but, disappointed by repeated 
failures, have given up the thing as a false, deluding chimera, 
unworthy of their study : though I have heard it said 
(whether true or false I know not, neither is there any 
offence meant) that Mr. Hancock, of steam-carriage celebrity, 
remarked once, that " if he had an hundred sons, he would 
like them all to study perpetual motion ; for, if it had no 
other beneficial effect, it would make them familiar with the 
various modes of connecting the working parts of machinery." 

[After a little pleasantry in the Way of proposing some 
incredible machinery, he proceeds : — ] 

Sir Isaac Newton, it is said, hinted something about a fool 
when he failed of discovering the perpetual motion. How 
far I may tally with the learned astronomer's ideas of one, 
I know not ; but certainly I have no ambition to contend for 
the title. Though the veteran mathematician did not express 
himself in the self-sufficient style of some of our ci-devant 
perpetual motion seekers after they had failed, — ** Phoo ! it's 
all fudge ; there is no such thing : haven't I tried it all tvaysf* 
— ^yet I must say it was rather ungenerous of him to place a 


disgraceful bar in the way of the successful student. I am 
not unaware, however, that many people consider me a down- 
right ninny, for coming forward as I have done, in a plain, 
open, decisive manner ; but how far I may really merit the 
epithet, remains eventually to be proved. If, after setting up 
my name as a target for the arrows of criticism to be pointed 
at, it is clearly demonstrated that I am in error, then, indeed, 
I cannot but acknowledge the term will be very justly applied. 
However, it may suffice at present when I say, " I do not 
fear the result !" 

Mr. Mackintosh, in a lecture delivered in October, in rela- 
tion to the laws and sources of motion (vol. 26, 1836), 
says : — 

All mechanical motion resulting from gravity tends from a 
circumference to a centre, the time which the motion con- 
tinues being greater or less as the velocity or distance from 
the centre is greater or less. 

If chemical motion continually tends from the centre to 
the circimiference, a perpetual chemical motion is impossible, 
because, whatever may be the dimensions of the mass, it 
must have a centre, at which point chemical action would 

If mechanical motion continually tends to a centre, a per- 
petual mechanical motion is impossible, because, whatever 
may be the dimensions of a circle, it must have a centre, at 
which point mechanical motion would cease. 

But a perpetual motion may and does exist, and is a neces- 
sary result of the two forces, viz., of chemical motion tending 
from a centre, and of mechanical motion tending to a centre; 
and these two forces may and will continue to produce motion 
for ever. 

Section II. — lu Possibility/ Denied, 

A correspondent (vol. 1, 1823), speaking of the London 
Mechanics' Institute, about to be established, observes : — 

Amongst the various other important benefits to be derived 
from the proposed institution, will be that of demonstrating. 

260 PERPETUUM mobile; 

in intelligible terms, the total fallacy and inutility of certain 
pursuits after the chimera of perpetual motion, in search of 
which so many have sunk their little capital and many of 
their best years of existence, which might have been pre- 
vented by an acquaintance with the first elements of me- 

In some recent cases which have come to my knowledge, 
the visionary mechanics have been objects of pity, from the 
encouragement given to them by persons who ought to have 
been qualified to have given better advice. These dark and 
golden dreams, the seeds of fruitless patents, will, it is to be 
hoped, be diminished by a more general diffusion of mechani- 
cal knowledge. 

[He concludes his letter with : — ^] 

Perhaps some of your correspondents will favour the public, 
through the medium of your Magazine, with a short history 
of some of the most specious attempts to produce a gener- 
ating power, or a machine capable of working from a power 
raised by itself. 

"A Constant Reader" (vol. 1, 1823) states:— 

* * * I have witnessed, however, a nearer approach 
to a method of obtaining perpetual motion than is set forth 
by your correspondent, which, if I comprehend it rightly, 
only shows one pump for raising the water over the wheel, 
but which is not sufficient to carry the wheel roimd. In the 
case I witnessed, there were two pumps, which moved suc- 
cessively after each other, by which means the wheel, if it 
were possible to overcome the friction, would be kept in con- 
stant motion ; whereas, after the contents of a single pump 
are discharged on the wheel, it would immediately stop. 

But, however an engine of this description may be made, 
it is utterly impossible to overcome the friction of the bear- 
ings, couplings, levers, &c. 

No Perpetual Motion (vol. 1, 1823). — ^The writer 
says : — 

I would advise those persons who yet may be misspending 
their valuable time on this vain pursuit, to consider the ques- 



tion in its most simple form, divested of the more complex 
operations of raising water by means of pumps, as these 
operations always involve questions of difficulty as to the 
proportion of power expended to the effect produced ; taking 
into account that the real mechanical effect in all hydraulic 
machines falls much below the power expended. Let the 
question be, therefore, considered by means of a simple 
pulley, mounted on friction wheels, so as to reduce the re- 
sistance to motion as much as possible : let us also suppose 
a line passing over this pulley, without weight, and without 
rigidity or stiffness ; at each end of this fine let there be 
attached an equal weight. As the subject is of importance, 
it will be right to consider well the result of this arrange- 
ment. It will be found that so long as the weights are equal 
there will be no motion produced, but that wherever the 
weights are placed they wiU remain ; and to produce vertical 
motion, even in the smallest degree, it will be necessary to 
add a weight to one of the former, to create a preponderancy: 
this additional weight is therefore the mechanical loss, and 
the insurmountable bar to perpetual motion. All attempts 
to get rid of this difficulty, by the introduction of pumps, 
whether the common lifting pumps, the spiral cylinder, or 
any other rotatory machinery, will only serve to increase the 
loss of power, by the friction inseparable from every part of 
a machine. 

[He says that — ] 

If one hundred gallons of water be made to operate upon 
any pump, with a fall of ten feet, it will be found that the 
quantity raised to the height of ten feet will be several 
gallons short of one himdred. 

[He adds : — ] 

A very considerable portion of the fruitless attempts to 
procure a generating power, that have come to my knowledge 
in the course of the last twenty-five years, have been foimded 
upon the presumption that a machine could be made to raise 
more water than was required for its own operation. A due 
consideration of the less complicated question of a pulley 
with two equal weights sufficiently proves that the presump- 
tion could never be realized. 

262 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

No Pebpetuaii Motion (vol. 1, 1823) : — 

Your correspondent has taken up a very wrong position 
when he insinuates that a perpetual motion cannot be made, 
because matter is inert. That matter is inert, no one will 
deny ; but motion is as natural to matter as inertness. This 
was long ago asserted by Des Cartes : impress motion upon 
any mass, and it will keep that motion for ever, if not affected 
by any other agent; witness the harmonious motion of the 
celestial spheres. 

The want of a perpetual motion arises from a very different 
cause than that of the inertia of matter. In the science of 
statics there are a few things most essentially necessary to be 
considered, and these are strikingly illustrated by the simple 






L P 


Let A K be an inflexible bar without weight ; place it on 
the fulcrum L : place equal weights, P and W, at each end ; 
these will evidently balance each other ; put them in motion 
in a vertical plane, and the descent of the one will be equal 
to the ascent of the other ; the times of ascent and descent 
will be the same; in short, a perfect statical equilibrium 
obtains — that is, the times, the velocities, the momenta, and 
the space passed over in each are respectively alike. Now, 
let the weight W, of six ounces, be placed at H ; then, by 
the properties of the lever, WxHL = PxAL; hence 

^^ "^ = P, that is, 6x2-5= 15, and 15 divided by 
4-6 = 3-3, the weight P ; in this position the balance is still 


preserved. The times of ascent and descent are equal ; the 
velocities and spaces described are nnequal; being as 4*5 is 
to 2*5 ; but this is again compensated by the momenta ; for, 
since that is as the quantity of matter multiplied into its 
velocity, we shall have for the momentum of P 3*3 X 4*5 = 15, 
and for W it will be 6 X 2*5 = 15 ; here, again, the momenta 
are brought into an equilibrated state, and of course motion 
will cease. The same truth will hold good in any other posi- 
tion, and in any other machine, however complicated may be 
its construction; for it has been asserted by an eminent 
astronomer and mechanical philosopher, that upon this prin- 
ciple depends the whole of mechanics ; and it holds \miver- 
sally true that when the bodies are suspended on any machine, 
so as to act contrary to each other, if the machine be put 
into motion, and the perpendicular ascent of one body multi- 
plied into its weight be equal to the perpendicular descent of 
the other body multiplied into its weight, those bodies, how 
unequal soever, will balance one another m all situations. 
In hydraulic machinery the same law holds true, and it is 
strikingly exemplified in the sjrphon. Suppose a vessel 
whose surface contains 16 superficial inches, and a syphon 
whose bore contains exactly one superficial inch — ^that is, any 
transverse section of the tube — ^it is well known that, if the 
longer leg of the sjrphon be on the same level with the sur- 
face of the water in the vessel, the water will not run, even 
though means be used to effect its egress. The reason is 
obvious : let the pressure of the atmosphere be 15 pounds 
on the square inch ; since fluids press alike in all directions, 
the 15 poimds of upward pressure will exactly balance the 
pressure of 240 on the vessel; for, if 16 inches of water 
were to be forced through the syphon, the water in the vessel 
would only fall one inch, and this velocity 1 x 240 (the pres- 
sure on the vessel) = 240, and the velocity of the sjrphon 
16 X 15 (its atmospheric pressure) = 240. Let the end of 
the longer leg be brought below the level of the surface of 
the water in the vessel, so as between that level and the 
point of discharge may contain one pound of water; and 
since this one poimd of water acts against the 15 pounds of 
atmospheric pressure, hence 14 pounds only remain, which 
do not balance the pressure upon the vessel ; in this case the 
water will flow; but no mechanical advantage can possibly 
be derived from this circumstance ; for although the velo- 

S64 PEKPETxruM mobile; 

cities are as 16 to 1, yet the quantities are equal, the times 
are equal, and the momenta are equal ; for the momentum 
or force thus generated by the affluent water can never raise 
a quantity in the slightest degree greater than itself to the 
point where it fell from ; and, so long as nature acts in this 
form, in vain shall we look for a perpetual motion. 

[He then quotes from Dr. Gregory, where he illustrates 
the impossibility of perpetual motion by the balance invented 
by Dr. Desaguliers.] 

Invariable rather than Perpetual Motion to be 
Sought after (vol. 2, 1824) : — 

Notwithstanding the many ingenious papers which have 
appeared in your Magazine, tending to elucidate the subject 
of perpetual motion, with the laudable view of restraining 
deluded genius from the pursuit of an object which can never 
be attained, it seems pretty clear (from the observations of 
F. J.) that they have all proved insufficient to effect this pur- 
pose. It is not enough for one enamoured with his imagined 
discoveries, and more or less hallucinated by a long and 
almost incessant contemplation of them, to be shown the 
unsuccessful attempts of others ; nor is it sufficient that a 
skilful mathematician can comprehend the demonstration of 
its impossibility; but I hope many may be restrained, by 
convincing them that it would be utterly useless if discovered, 
and that the pursuit of it is disreputable in the eyes of 
scientific men. 

When, however, I assert that perpetual motion can never 
be obtained, I wish to be understood, that it cannot be pro- 
duced by any means strictly mechanical, or hydrostatical : 
that it may be practicable by other means, must be sufficiently 
obvious to every theorist. For example : let a tube be made 
in the form of those used in common wheel barometers, 
sufficiently capacious to contain several hundred pounds of 
mercury ; then suspend a weight on the surface of the mer- 
cury, with a proportional counterpoise, so placed, that every 
ascent, as well as descent, shall renovate the maintaining 
power of a train of wheels, terminated by a delicately small 
balance. By this means a very small alteration in the pres- 


sure of the atmosphere will wind up the weight or spring 
sufficiently to maintain the vibrations of a balance for a 
period of two, or three, or more weeks, according to the 
weight of the column of mercury suspended in the tube. If 
it be objected, that there is a possibility of the atmosphere 
preserving an uniform pressure for so long a period, a ther- 
mometer constructed pyrometrically (i.e., with bars of metal 
possessing an equal expansibility) may be substituted ;* and 
as the power of this may, like the last, be accumulated to any 
given extent, it may be made to require only the constant 
changes of season to impart to the machine sufficient power 
•to render it totally independent of the minor and inconstant 
variations of temperature, from which it would nevertheless 
frequently derive a renewal of power. 

But to produce perpetual motion by mechanical means, is 
a proposition which in itself implies a contradiction : mecha- 
nical motion consists in an approximation to mechanical 
equilibriimi, and it is therefore a contradiction to say that a 
body, or system of bodies, can constantly approach without 
ultimately arriving at that point of equilibrium where motion 
ceases. f If, again, it be said that motion may be produced 
without approaching the point of equilibrium, an equally 
obvious contradiction is involved ; for the proposition comes 
to this, that we may produce, by the expenditure of a given 
quantity of power, a renovating power greater than that 
expended, which is impossible. It may not, perhaps, be so 
distinctly evident ; but it is no less capable of demonstration, 
that projected bodies of any description, deriving their force 
from their momentum, are subject to the same or (in their 
result) similar laws, and equally inadequate to produce per- 
petual motion. 

Let me exhort those of your readers, who will not be con- 
vinced of the impracticability of their schemes, and who, after 
all^that has been said, still imagine that they can accomplish 
that which has baffled the learned of all ages ; who esteem 
those facts which science has established, and which have 
been demonstrated to our understanding, and proved to our 

* See NicliO'Son on the Solid Thermometer, p. 127. 
f Mathematically, perpetual approximation mny easily be conceived. 
Not so here, because the motion of a specific body requires a specific power 
to maintain it ; and when the power becomes less than that q\iantity, the 
motion ceases. 

266 PERPETUUM mobile; 

senses, to be merely as " customs," or fashions, which they 
can lay aside when they impede their operations: these I 
would advise to relinquish a pursuit which is profitable 
neither to society nor to themselves, and direct their exer- 
tions to the investigation of subjects in which their success 
would entitle them to remuneration for the trouble and 
anxiety inseparable from speculative experiments. Instead 
of studying perpetual motion, which has hitherto produced 
nothing but perpetual nonsense, let their object be an invari- 
able motion. The necessity of winding up such machines at 
certain periods, is a circumstance altogether unimportant and 
frivolous, while it remains to obviate the evils arising from • 
external motion ; to neutralize the effects of heat and cold, 
without the introduction of other evils ; to prevent the 
variable and injurious influence of oil, &c., &c. 

In vol. 3, 1824, a correspondent, who signs " Esperance," 
gives the following as a memorandum made by him " while 
perusing some works relating to the controversy of finite 
particles :" — 

Dec, 1813. — The theory of a finite quantity of matter 
being composed of an infinite number of particles, as to the 
truth of which mathematicians are divided in opinion, may 
perhaps be compared to that of perpetual motion. For 
mathematicians, on the other side, say, it is a contradiction 
to suppose anything of finite dimensions can be composed of 
infinities, which certainly appears correct in principle ; yet, 
on the other hand, it is argued that no certain number of 
parts of which any matter consists can be supposed, without 
having an idea of a greater number, even ad infinitum. On 
the same ground, although no certain time can be pointed 
out which forms the maximum of the movements of ma- 
chinery, nor can any length of time be conceived wnthout an 
idea of greater extent, to which, by increasing either the 
moving power or the complication of the inferior parts, the 
motion may be carried : yet perpetual motion, as a mechanic 
principle, is visionary. Query. — ^Will this at aU explain the 
subject which has been so long controverted, as it proves the 
maintainers of both sides of tiie question to be to a certain 
degree right ? 


This argument, of course, alludes to engines where a me- 
chanical power is the moving force, and not a chemical power, 
as the electrical pendulum. 

A correspondent (vol. 6, 1825) directs his remarks chiefly 
against the singular opinions of Mr. Pasley, who believes 
'' that a perp^tual-motion-making cause may yet be discovered, 
and that following such an i^nis fatuus may lead to the path 
of wisdom," and observes : — 

On the contrary, this vain pursuit has been known, even in 
the present age, to lead to poverty and ruin ; and, indeed, 
what else can be expected, when speculators construct ma- 
chines without understanding the first principles of mechanics ? 
Such was the case with myself (perhaps thirty-five years 
since), when, believing that nature abhorred a vacuum, I 
constructed a syphon with a small bore as far as the water 
was to ascend, and a large bore in the shorter descending 
leg ; fully expecting that the weight of the larger column of 
water would draw up the smaller column out of a basin, and 
permit the liquid to fall into the vessel from whence it came, 
and turn a wheel in its descent.* Another of my raw youthful 
speculations consisted in a water-wheel, contrived so as to 
pump up water near the centre of it, a part only of which I 
supposed would be amply sufficient to keep the wheel in 
motion, by the great power it would possess if conveyed into 
buckets at the wheel's circumference. I did not then know 
the imiversal law of mechanics, which must inevitably de- 
molish all similar projects in machinery, viz., that whatever 
is gained in power is lost in time. 

I believe the idea, that a perpetual-motion-making cause 
may yet be discovered, arises principally from ignorance of 
the laws of nature which relate to machinery, but partly from 
a notion which has been broached by certain pantheistical 
philosophers, that a propensity to motion is an innate and 
essential property of the particles of matter. Yet, in oppo- 
sition to this doctrine, the natural immobility and inertness of 
matter are obvious wherever we turn our eyes ; and the pro- 

* For this favourite idea, see Appendix B ; and Zonca's work on 
Macbinesi 1G07| folio. 


268 PERPETUUM mobile; 

jectile motion in the planets, &c., can no more be an innate 
quality than it is in a cannon-ball. The whole universe is, 
indeed, an example of perpetual motion, as respects the 
larger masses of matter, yet the motion in all cases seems to 
proceed from an external or mental cause. 

The circulation of the blood in animals seems to be caused 
by a series of galvanic shocks ; but a constant external supply 
of food, air, and heat is indispensable, and shows that the 
motion of the heart, &c., is not an innate propensity. A 
watermill in a large river may be deemed a real perpetual 
motion ; but the weight or gravity of the water, which con- 
stantly carries it towards the ocean, proves that some other 
agent must convey it up again towards its source. 

[On Mr. Pasley's version of the projectile force, he 
remarks : — "] 

What ! is the projectile force (as exemplified on the largest 
scale in the planetary system) a nullity ? On the contrary, 
that is precisely the kind of force which all perpetual motion 
seekers should cherish above all others ; for it is acknow- 
ledged that bodies projected into space move on ad infinitum 
with their original velocity, unless obstructed by the air or 
some other agent. 

Without wishing any one to place a blind reliance on great 
authorities, I think no person ought to presume to promulgate 
any anti-Newtonian doctrines, till they have given sound 
reasons for rejecting the established system. 

[This he says in allusion ,'to such common-sense phi- 
losophers as Sir R. Phillips and others.] 

I fear the delusive projects for perpetual motion have been 
encouraged in no small degree by the disingenuousness of the 
Marquis of Worcester, who, like some of your correspondents, 
scruples not to insinuate that he has actually succeeded in 
this hopeful attempt. 

The wheel that he speaks of in No. 56 of his " Century of" 
ingenious speculations, rather than "inventions," certainly 
would not move of itself, though it is possible to make the 
weights descend at a greater distance from the centre than 
their ascending distance. 

[He complains of Nos. 78 and 98 as fallacious ; and — ] 

Nos. 99 and 100 are complete castles in the air, or else 


they are worth a thousand of perpetual motions. The descent 
of 1 lb. is to raise 100 lbs. as high as the 1 lb. falls, in defiance 
of the mechanical principle — that what we gain in power we 
lose in time, &c. 

The Editor (vol. 10, 1828) says :— • 

Philobrune, who expresses his determination never to 
believe in the impossibility of perpetual motion, until he has 
" spent twenty or thirty pounds in the trial," and who wishes 
for a candid examination of the arguments for and against it, 
will be pleased to learn that we propose inserting, shortly, a 
series of clever papers, which profess to have that object in 
view, by a correspondent nearly as incredulous as himself. 
We, however, recoijimend him to keep his money in his 
pocket till he has read these papers, and what may possibly 
be oiSered in reply to them. Strange to stay, notwithstanding 
all that has been experimented and written on the subject, 
the " Philobrunes " are still a very numerous class ; and 
while they are so, no apology can be necessary for appropri- 
ating a portion of our pages to their conversion. 

A lecturer (vol. 10, 1828) writes :— 

Perpetual motion is, and ever must be, an impossibility. 
For, consider motion abstractedly from matter — a certain 
quantity of motion is communicated to a given body, and the 
seeker after perpetual motion endeavours, by the agency of 
machinery, to make it return to the same place again, and so 
continue for ever. Now, were there no such things as fric- 
tion and resistance, all would be well ; but as long as bodies 
continue to part with their motion to surrounding bodies, so 
long will perpetual motion be unattainable. It is of no use 
to invent machinery to economize the motion : at the return 
of each circulation, the motion must and will be less than it 
was at the end of the preceding one, and so it will continue 
till the machine stops. 

Neither is it reasonable to suppose that, by the agency of 
any uniform moving power (if I may be allowed the expres- 
sion), such as the magnet, the earth's attraction, the atmo- 
spheric pressure, &c., we can attain perpetual motion. For 

270 PEBPETUUM mobixe; 

instance, in the magnet, all cases may be reduced to the fol- 
lowing : — ^There are two magnets, A and B, and another body, 
as C, to be attracted, first by one and then by the other, as 
in the figure. 

6 r-- — I 


First, then, A is to have sufficient power to attract C away 
from B ; and then B is to have a greater power, to draw C 
away from A. Now, if the power of B be greater than the 
power of A, it could never have attracted C away from B in 
the first instance ; and if B be less than A, B can never draw 
it back in the second. To suppose, then, that in any arrange- 
ments of magnets, first one should have the greater power 
and then the other, is absurd ; and the same holds good of 
any uniform source of motion whatever. 

In writing the above, I have gone at once to first principles, 
considering that I wrote for persons who understood the 
subject; for in investigating questions of this nature, we 
must not stop to consider the best passage for fluids, the 
superiority of a friction roller, or the advantages of a lever, 
but go at once to the first principles ; the same as in algebra 
we clear an equation of all unnecessary quantities. * * 
If I have made the case clear, it may preserve talents from 
being wasted upon that which is not attainable. 

ScBiPTUBE Texts (vol. 11, 1829). — ^What the following 
has to do with the subject, it is difficult to surmise : but its 
author seems in good earnest : — 

" Notice to Perpetual Motion Seekers." — The following 
is a literal copy of a communication which we have re- 


ceived under this head. We publish it for the benefit of 
all concerned : — " Perpetual Motion Seekers ! see Coloss., 
ch. ii., V. 8 — ' Beware lest any man spoil you, through phi- 
losophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the 
rudunents of the world.' Ye are making the words of God of 
none efiect by your traditions, in publishing these things to 
the world. How can such toys and baubles as these be per- 
petual? See Malachi, ch. iv., v. 1 — 'For behold the day 
cometh that shall bum as an oven ; and all the proud, yea, 
all that do wickedly, shall be as stubble.' Here is the end 
of them. I the undersigned have to inform the public, the 
model for making perpetual motion is to be found in that too 
much neglected book of models, the Bible. I called upon 
the Lord, and he showed it to me. T said, ' Lord, shall I 
show this unto them ?' This was the answer to me : — See 
Isaiah, ch. xli., v. 29 — ' Behold, they are all vanity ; their 
works are nothing.' I said, ' Lord, be pleased to show me 
some more about it.' ' Bring forth your strong reason^, saith 
the King of Jacob.' — Isaiah, ch. xli., v. 21. This was the 
answer : — See Isaiah, ch. xli., v. 14 — ' Fear not, thou worm 
Jacob. * * Behold, I will make thee a new sharp thresh- 
ing instrument having teeth ; thou shalt thresh the moun- 
tains, and beat them small, and shall make the hills as chaff.* 
See also Jeremiah, ch. viii., v. 9 — ' The wise men are ashamed ; 
they are dismayed and taken,' &c. See also Jeremiah, ch. ix., 
Y. 12 — ' Who is the wise man that may imderstand this ?' 
If there is not a wise and learned man who can show this, 
there is a deaf and unlearned man that will, by the blessing 
of God, set it forth to you. I am that deaf and unlearned 
man, Geobge Lovatt, Stafford. 

" P.S. — Mr. Editor : I have told you what I was commanded 
to do. See Ezekiel, ch. iii., v. 4 to the end. Now, see thou 
forget it not ; let those models which come from the Word of 
God have the first place. — Joshua, ch. xxiv., v. 15." 

A correspondent, and the Editor's note (vol. 13, 1830), 
appear as follows : — 

" I believe there are principles, could they be brought into 
action, which would effect the desired purpose, and the diffi- 
cidty is mostly in the practical application." 

Sir, — The above is the conclusion of "Hezron's" letter 

272 PERPETUUM mobile; 

in your 366tli number, who, " at some sacrifice of valuable 
space," has described a perpetual motion, the most unlikely 
to keep moving that ever was thought of. 

Now, Sir, if "Hezron" will point out the "principles" 
he speaks of, I will engage to remove every " difficulty" that 
stands in the way of their " practical application." 

The pursuit of the perpetual motion has been supposed by 
some to render the same service to mechanics which the 
efforts to discover the philosopher's stone are said to have 
rendered to chemistry. Whether or not the latter science 
has been improved by the dreams of the alchymists, I am not 
prepared to say ; but I think I may assert, without fear of 
contradiction, that the science of mechanics neither has been, 
nor ever will be, benefited by the attempts to discover a per- 
petual motion. What probability is there of persons im- 
proving a science, who are completely ignorant of it? And 
this is almost universally the case with perpetual motion 
seekers. What benefit has science ever derived from their 
exertions ? I believe none at all. 

To believe in the possibility of the perpetual motion in- 
volves the absurdity of believing that the same thing may be 
greater or less than itself. I cannot help lamenting that 
ingenuity should be thrown away in endeavouring to discover 
what, from the nature of things, never can exist in this 
world; when, at the same time, that ingenuity might be 
productive of public good and the private advantage of its 
possessor, if properly directed. 

[We do not think that a belief in the possibility of per- 
petual motion argues such complete ignorance as " S. Y." 
supposes: of this, at least, we are well satisfied, that 
" Hezron" possesses both information and ingenuity enough 
to prove himself a troublesome antagonist to any one, be his 
scientific attainments what they may. "S. Y." should in 
candour have noticed that the scheme given in No. 366 was 
not one of " Hezron's " own, but an attempt to exemplify 
one of the Marquis of Worcester's Century of Inventions. 
Neither do we agree with " S. Y." that the subject is one 
from the prosecution of which nothing is to be gained to the 
science of mechanics. We conceive that were the result of 
the experiments for which " Hezron " solicits subscriptions 
to do even no more than this — convince the many hundreds 
(thousands, we may say) who still cherish the notion that a 


perpetual motion is possible, of the fallacy of the thing, it 
would do a great deal of good, inasmuch as it would direct 
into channels of practical utility, all that labour and ingenuity 
which are now fruitlessly spent in pursuit of the (alleged) 
chimera. — ^Ed. M. M.] 

Discovering Impossibilities (vol. 17, 1832) : — 

M. Mathulon, a manufacturer of stuiSs at Lyons, once an- 
nounced that he had discovered the quadrature of the circle 
and the perpetual motion, and he deposited 1000 crowns, to 
be awarded to any person who should prove that he was in 
error. M. Nicole eiSectually did this, and the thousand 
crowns were awarded to him, and were presented by him to 
the General Hospital at Lyons. 

A few Words to the Perpetual Motionists (vol. 
17, 1832) :— 

Gentlemen, — 

"When leave you off your vagaries?" 

Five-and-twenty years ago, I entertained the notion of making 
a machine, not only to work itself, but to put in motion as 
many traps as Bishop Blaize in the miniature wool machinery 
of a show, that used to go about the fairs in the north of 
England, when I was a lad. As soon ^s I had got the neces- 
sary tools, I made a wheel of brass, with weights, friction- 
wheels, &c., to be thrown out from the centre on the one side, 
and brought near to the centre on the opposite side, by 
means of guide-rings. The whole was made of well-lackered 
brass, and contained in a frame-work of the best mahogany. 
So confident was I of its working, that I hardly thought it 
possible my hobby could fail, and actually prepared myself 
with a table-cloth to stop it in case it should go so fast as to 
break in pieces ! I thus gained some experience, and be- 
ginning to inquire of men, books, and machines, I soon found 
that the great enemy to all perpetual or self-acting machines 
is friction and gravity. 

Emerson says, prop. 116, cor. 1, " Hence it follows, that if 
any weight is moved by help of a machine, what is gained in 

274 PEBPETXJUM mobile; 

power is lost in time." Again, cor. 2, " Hence the motion 
of the weight is not at all increased by any engine or mechani- 
cal instrument (think of that, gentlemen), only the velocity of 
the weight is so much diminished thereby, that the quantity 
of motion of the weight may not exceed the quantity of motion 
of the power ; and, therefore, it is a vain fancy of any one to 
think that he can move a great weight with a little power, and • 
with the same velocity as with a greater power !" So that, 
gentlemen, if your machines or wheels were to run in dia- 
monds, your pumps to be of glass, still you would find a few 
drops of water necessary to overcome friction ; which drops 
must, of course, be lost, for they cannot be got up to the over- 
shot wheel again without some extra power. It is reported 
in America that a clock has been invented, going without 
help ! I have heard of clocks going seven years in England ; 
but, as Peter Keir said of Wolf and Edward's new steam- 
engine in Lambeth (about, I think, 1810) which ground 19 
bushels of com with one bushel of coals, " that's a thing only 
to be believed on seeing it." But even suppose you could 
make a machine to go or work of itself, it could have no 
overplus power to spare for any other purpose, and would 
therefore be of no practical utility whatever. 

I will allow that perpetual motion-hunting is a very pleasant 
and exciting pursuit. It may be compared to being in a sort 
of waking dream, and in the one case so in the other it is 
very vexatious to be jilted. — I am, gentlemen, your weU- 

William Heed. 

Peterhoif Paper-mill, near St. Petersburgh, 
January 19, 1832. 

Editorial Notice (vol. 19, 1833) :— 

[A correspondent, writing November, 1832, having spoken 
against the publication of fallacious schemes, the Editor gives 
as a reason for admitting all into his journal, a hope to do 
good to the " seekers " themselves.] 

They are still, notwithstanding the wide diffusion of scien- 
tific knowledge in modern times, a very numerous race : almost 
every village can boast of some lone enthusiast of this de- 


scription. Now, as there is a common fallacy which pervades 
all schemes for effecting a perpetual motion, the chances are, 
that by subjecting any one of the number to the test of a public 
examination, and thereby ensuring its refutation, you will 
demolish hundreds of others, and, while thus exposing the 
folly of one visionary, may be the means of curing many. 
We know, indeed, that, in point of fact, our journal has in 
this way done much good. 

The following article is quoted in vol. 27, 1837 : — 

Two classes of persons are inveigled into this hopeless 
quest: the first is the projector, — generally a man who can 
handle tools, and who is gifted with some small power of 
invention — a faculty, as Mr. Babbage justly observes, by no 
means rare, and of little use unless coupled with some know- 
ledge of what others have done before him. Of the inven- 
tions already made — of the experiments which have been 
tried and have failed — our projector is usually profoundly 
ignorant. What are called the laws of mechanics — ^namely, 
general truths which were established by the observations of 
scientific men in times past, and which are now admitted by 
all who take the trouble to investigate them — ^he has either 
never heard of, or chooses to set at nought without inquiry. 
The other class is that which finds capital. The projector, 
having perhaps exhausted his own funds, takes his scheme 
to some person who has a little money to spare, and dazzles 
him with the prospects of sudden and splendid wealth ; little 
by little, he is drawn into expenses which neither of them, 
perhaps, had anticipated. Failure after failure ensues, but 
still all is to be right at last. The fear of ridicule — ^the 
necessity for retrieving, the one his capital, the other his 
credit, — these motives carry them on till the ruin of both 
puts a termination to their folly. 

Unhappily, however, the stage is quickly occupied by 
other adventurers, profiting nothing by the fate of their pre- 
cursors ; and yet one would think that a very slight considera- 
tion of the subject would be sufficient to shew the absurdity 
of the undertaking. What is the object aimed at? Is it to 
make a machine which, being once set in motion, shall go on 
without stopping until it is worn out? Every person en- 

276 PERPETUUM mobile; 

gaged in the piirsuit of the perpetual motion would perhaps 
accept this as a true statement of the object in view. Yet 
nothing is more easy than to make such a machine. There 
are from ten to twenty of them at work at this moment on 
the Rhine, opposite Mayence. These are water-mills in 
boats, which are moored in a certain part of the river ; andt 
as the Rhine is never dry, these mills, which are simple in 
their construction, would go on for years — go on, indeed, 
imtil they were worn out. But if this instance were men- 
tioned, the projector would perceive that the statement of 
his object was imperfect. It must run thus : — a machine 
which, being set in motion, shall go on till worn out, without 
any power being employed to keep it in motion. 

Probably few persons who embark in such a project sit 
down beforehand to consider thoroughly what it is they are 
about to imdertake, otherwise it could hardly require much 
knowledge of mechanics to see the impossibility of construct- 
ing such a machine. Take as many shafts, wheels, pulleys, 
and springs as you please ; if you throw them in a heap in the 
comer of your room, you do not expect them to move ; it is 
only when put together that the wildest enthusiast expects 
them to be endowed with the power of self-movement ; nor 
then, unless the machine is set going. 1 never heard of a 
projector who expected his engine to set ofT the moment the 
last nail was driven, or instantly on the last stroke of the 
file. And why not? A machine that would continue to go 
of itself would begin of itself. No machine can be made 
which has not some friction, which, however slight, would in 
a short time exhaust any power that could have been em- 
ployed merely for the purpose of setting it in motion. But 
a machine must not only keep moving itself, but furnish 
power ; or, in other words, it must not only keep in motion, 
but it must have power to expend in some labour, as grinding 
com, rolling metals, urging forward a vessel or a carriage ; 
80 that by an arrangement of parts which of themselves have 
no moving power, the projector expects to make a machine, 
self-moving, and with the power of performing some useful 

"Father, I have invented a perpetual motion!" said a 
littl6 fellow of eight years old. " It is thus : I would make a 
great wheel, and fix it up like a water-wheel ; at the top I 
would hang a great weight, and at the bottom I would hang 


a number of little weights : then the great weight would turn 
the wheel half round and sink to the bottom, because it is 
so heavy ; and when the little weights reached the top they 
would sink down, because they are so many ; and thus the 
wheel would turn round for ever." The child's fallacy is a 
type of all the blunders which are made on this subject. 
Follow a projector in his description, and if it be not perfectly 
unintelligible, which it often is, it always proves that he 
expects to find certain of his movements alternately strong 
and weak — ^not according to the laws of nature, but according 
to the wants of his mechanism. 

If man could produce a machine which would generate the 
power by which it is worked, he would become a creator. 
All .he has hitherto done — all, I may safely predict, he ever 
will do — is to mould existing power so as to make it perform 
his bidding. He can make the waterfall in the brook spin 
his cotton, 4or print his book by means of machinery ; but a 
mill to pump water enough to keep itself at work he cannot 
make. Absurd as it may seem, the experiment has been 
tried ; but, in truth, no scheme is too absurd for adoption by 
the seekers after perpetual motion. A machine, then, is a 
mere conductor of power into a useful channel. The wind 
grinds the com — the sails, the shafts, and the stones are only 
the means by which the power of the wind can be turned to 
that particular purpose ; so it is the heat thrown out by the 
burning coal which performs all the multifarious operations 
of the steam-engine, the machinery being only the connecting 
links between the cause and the efiect. — " Penny Magazine." 


41, 1844). — A correspondent gives the following extracts 
from Mudie's " Popular Mathematics :" — 

" Of the vast number of inventions and projects which are 
every day brought before the public — not as mere bubbles or 
impostures, but with perfect honesty and zeal on the part of 
the projectors — ^we speak with most charitable liberality when 
we say that not one in the hundred proves to be of any use 9 
and nine out of every ten are altogether impracticable. Th© 
reason clearly is, that neither the projectors nor those b 

278 PEKPSTVUM mobile; 

whom they are encouraged are able to see the impossible 
elements which their schemes involve ; that they look at the 
possible and promising ones only : and thus a large quantity 
of well-meant labour and ingenuity is constantly wasted." 

In reference to this "lurking impossible quantity," Mr. 
Mudie says : — " Perhaps we cannot select a better one than 
that of the 'perpetual motion' — ^that is, a self-moving machine, 
which shall not involve any stoppage, save the wearing out of 
the materials of which it is composed. We believe that the 
fonder votaries of this visionary project do not take even the 
wearing out of the materials into the accoimt; but it is 
necessary to do this : and even this necessity, when analysed, 
involves the necessity of the machine stopping before the 
parts are worn out." 

" The power which tends to stop the motion of all machines 
upon the earth's surface is a power which acts constantly and 
imiformly, never pausing an instant, nor abating % jot ; and 
therefore, in order to get the better of this gravitation, we 
must have a counteracting power as continually new as itself; 
and we are not acquainted with any such power, or kind of 
matter in which such a power could reside. It is not difficult 
to calculate (upon mathematical principles) that if we could 
give any piece of matter a motion round the earth at the rate 
of about 5 miles in a second, or 1,800 miles in an hour, and 
keep up the motion at this rate, we should overcome the 
gravitation of that piece of matter. This is what may be 
regarded as the possible case of perpetual motion. 

" In the case of a fixed machine — and the more compli- 
cated the machine is, it is the less likely to succeed — the 
impossible element, in the most simple view we can take of 
it, is this : to find a piece of matter which, of itself, shall be 
alternately greater and less than itself, and which shall also 
remain equal to itself all the time ; and if this is not an 
impossibility, it is not easy to see where impossibility is to be 

*' The knowledge of impossible or absurd quantities, and 
the method of readily discovering them, are often of great 
use to us — ^not only in preventing us from wasting our time 
in attempting to do that which cannot in the nature of things 
be done, but in enabling us to prove or demonstrate truth in 
cases where that cannot be done directly." [Edition 1836, 
pages 23 to 27-] 


Pebpetuaii Motion (vol. 64, 1856) : — 

A paper containing certain important inferences from the 
negation of perpetual motion was recently read at the Royal 
Institution, by W, R. GroTe, Esq., Q,C., F.R.S., &c. In 
the following remarks we give an abstract of the author's 
communication : — 

Scattered among the writings of philosophers will be foimd 
allusions to the subject of perpetual motion, and here and 
there are arguments like the following : — Such a phenomenon 
cannot take place, or such a theory must be fallacious, because 
it involves the idea of perpetual motion. Thus Dr. Roget 
advanced as an argument against the contact theory of 
electricity, as originally propounded, that if mere contact of 
dissimilar metals, without any chemical or molecular change, 
could produce electricity, then as electricity could, in its 
turn, be made to produce motion, we should thus get per- 
petual motion. 

It may be well to define, as far as such a definition is 
possible, what is commonly meant by the term perpetual 
motion. In one sense, aU motion, or rather all force, is per- 
petual. For example, if a clock weight be wound* up, it 
represents the force derived from the muscles of the arm 
which turns the key ; the muscles again derive force indirectly 
from the chemical action of the food, and so on. As the 
weight descends, it conveys motion to the wheels and pen- 
dulum ; the former giving force off in the form of heat from 
friction, the latter commimicating motion to the air in contact 
with it, thence to the air of the room — ^proved in a very 
simple manner by the ticking heard, which is, in fact, a blow 
to the organ of hearing. Although ultimately lost to our 
senses, there is no reason to suppose that the force is ever in 
fact lost. The weight thus acting reaches the ground quietly, 
and produces no effect at the termination of its course. 

If, instead of being allowed to communicate its force to 
the works of the clock, the weight be allowed to descend 
suddenly, as by cutting the string by which it is suspended, it 
strikes the floor with a force which shakes the house ; and 
thus conveys, almost instantaneously, the amount of force 
which would be gradually dissipated, though not ultimately 
consumed, by the clock in a week or nine days. 

This idea, however, of the perpetuity of force, is not what 

280 PEBPETUiTM mobile; 

is commonly understood by the term perpetual motion: 
that expression is used to convey the notion of a motive 
machine, the initial force of which is restored by the motion 
produced by itself — a clock, so to speak, which winds itself 
up by its own wheels and pendulum, a pump which keeps 
itself going by the weight of the water which it has raised. 
Another notion, arising from a confusion between static and 
dynamic forces, was, that motion might be obtained without 
transferring force, as by a permanent magnet. All soimd 
philosophers are of opinion that such effects are impossible ; 
the work done by a given force, even assuming there were no 
such thing as friction, aerial resistance, &c., could never be 
more than equal to the initial force ; the theoretical limit is 
equilibrium. The weight raised at one end of a lever can 
never, without the fresh application of extraneous force, 
raise the opposite weight which has produced its own 
elevation. A force can only produce motion when the 
resistance to it is less powerful than itself; if equal, it is 
equilibrium : thus, if motion be produced, resistance, being 
less than the initial or producing force, cannot reproduce this; 
for then the weaker would conquer the stronger force. 

The object of this evening's communication was not, how- 
ever, to adduce proofs that perpetual motion, in the sense 
above defined, is impossible ; but assuming that as a recog- 
nised truth, to show certain consequences which had resulted, 
and others which were likely to result, from the negation of 
perpetual motion; and how this negation may be made a 
substantive and valuable aid to scientific investigation. 

After Oersted made his discovery of electro-magnetism, 
philosophers of the highest attainments argued that, as a 
current of electricity, circulating in a wire round a bar of 
iron, produced magnetism, and as action and re-action are 
equal, and in contrary directions, a magnet placed within 
a spiral of wire should produce in the wire an electrical 
current. Had it occurred to their minds that if a permanent 
magnet could so produce electricity, and thence necessarily 
motion, they would thus get, in effect, perpetual motion, they 
would probably have anticipated the discovery of Faraday, 
and found that all that was required was to move the magnet 
with reference to the wire, and thus electricity might have 
been expected to be produced by a magnet without involving 
the supposed absurdity. 


[The remainder of the paper relates to results arising from 
heat and freezing.] 

On Perpetual Motion (vol. 68, 1858). By General T. 
Perronet Thompson, M.P. : — 

Searches after what is known by the name of a perpetual 
motion have been at all times so common that it cannot be 
without use to endeavour to ascertain and set down the 
circumstances imder which such a phenomenon is possible, 
or the contrary, .with the reasons why. 

The innumerable attempts at perpetual motion from time 
to time made known, fail generally by rimning against two 
canons which nature has set up, and which it is not in man 
to bear down : that action and re-action are equal, and that 
the velocities of the power and weight are inversely as those 
forces. And it is not unamusing to see how curiously these 
truths may be disguised, and yet with what certainty they 
will spring out on the hapless projector, at the moment he 
thinks, good easy man, his success is in the act of ripening. 

The old books of " rare inventions " deal in speculations 
of this disappointing kind. They conceive of balls, rolling 
down an inclined plane or series of planes, and, by some 
crafty modification of art, acquiring velocity enough to carry 
them to the place from which they came. Or, they pour 
water on an overshot wheel, with intent that this shall turn 
machinery to pump the water up again. When the great 
mechanic of antiquity declared he would move the world if 
anybody would show him where to fix his machine, why 
shpuld these apparently minor performances be beyond the 
reach of man? Simply because the one offers no contra- 
diction to the canons above named, and the others do. 

To one who has never reflected on such subjects, it would 
look like a comparatively easy thing to make a watch which 
should wind itself up. 

A friend of early days went to considerable expense with a 
machine consisting of a cylinder which turned on friction- 
wheels, and to its circumference were attached certain arcs 
or arms of brass, with a weight or ball at the end, and these 

282 PERPETUUM mobile; 

were expected to turn or fall into a position approaching the 
horizontal on one side of the cylinder, and lie snug upon the 
other. But when tried, it moved for a short time when set in 
motion, and then stopped ; the projector expressing his 
surprise at the very small help required to make it con- 
tinue in motion. It was suggested to him to put quicksilver 
into the arcs or arms, which should run outwards in one of 
their positions and back again in another ; with which he 
was much elated, but nothing came of it. It was evident, in 
all these cases, that when the machine stopped there was an 
exact balance in all its parts, and no surplus of force any- 
where by which any motion could be continued. 

But though there is no making a perpetual motion by the 
simple application of mechanical force, there is no difficulty 
in making what may be called so by the help of certain 
natural powers, if we can get them ; and this by the token 
that nature is full of perpetual motions. And it is not at all 
imlikely that by some application of these, something very 
novel and important may be forthcoming. A mill on a per- 
petual stream is a perpetual motion, because the stream is. 
And if we ask why the stream is perpetual, it is because the 
sun to-day, yesterday, and as long as the world shall last, is 
drawing up water from the sea by evaporation, which in the 
absence of the sun condenses itself into the shape of rain, 
some of which falls into the sea again, and what falls on the 
land forms rivers. So that the result may be traced to two 
facts — that the sun is perpetual, and that the world turns 
round without stopping. 

If the force of magnetism had been capable of being inter- 
cepted like light, it would have been possible to make a 
perpetual motion by the attraction of a magnet on steel 
points in the circumference of a wheel. And here there 
would have been one of nature's perpetual forces, which man 
cannot copy. There are ideas abroad that something of this 
kind is to come of electricity ; though how we are to have 
electricity without working an electrical machine does not 

On the whole, however, there is nothing hopeless in the 
expectation of great results from some of nature's perpetual 
forces. And one of the first means towards such an end is 
to cultivate an acquaintance with the impossible which is to 
be kept clear of. 



Section III. — Plans for Effecting Perpetual Motion. 

1. A Perpetual Pump. — ^A correspondent (vol. 1, 1823) 
sends the following account of the proposed machine : — 

I know only of one at present which in theory appeared 
to the inventor " just the thing ;" of course he must have 
been totally ignorant of the laws of friction. 

The above sketch will show his idea, a h e d is the sec- 
tion of the reservoir, &c., showing the wheel, the pump, &c. 
A B is an overshot water-wheel ; C D the working beam ; 
E the pump ; F a pipe from the top of the pump, through 
which the water was to fall upon the wheel ; C O an arm, 
communicating, by means of a crank attached to an hori- 
zontal shaft through the centre of the wheel, motion to the 
lever or working beam, and so raising water from the reser- 
voir by means of the pump ; H I the water. It was sup- 
posed that the water which had fallen upon the wheel into 
the reservoir would be raised by means of the pump, fall 
through the horizontal pipe, and so produce a continued 
rotatory motion. 



2. A Hydbo-pneitmatic Appabatus. — ^A correspondent 
(yol. 1, 1823) gives an account of a plan which, though failing 
from the friction — an insurmountable obstacle — is presumed 
to hare some claim to ingenuity. 

A A A A is a cistern of water, filled as high as B B. 
C C C C C C are six bladders, communicating by the tubes 
D D D D D D with the hollow axle E, which axle is con- 
nected with the bellows F by the pipe G. H is a crank, 
connected with the crank I by the rod K. L is a saucer- 
wheel, M a pinion, N its shaft. O is a crank, attached to 
the bellows F by the rod P. Q Q Q Q Q Q are valves, with 
a projecting lever. R and S are two projecting knobs. T is 
a hole in the axle E, forming a communication with it and 
the lowermost bladder. The axle B being put in motion. 


carried round the bladders and tables, and by the cranks H 
and I, and the connecting-rod K, caused the wheel L to re- 
volve, which, communicating a similar but accelerated motion 
to the pinion M, shaft N, and crank O, worked or blew the 
bellows F by the rod P ; the air entered the axle E by the 
tube G, and passing through the hole in it at T, entered the 
lower bladder C * by the tube D * ; this bladder being thus 
rendered lighter than the space it occupied, ascended, bring- 
ing the bladder behind it over the hole in the axle T in like 
manner, and which thereby gained an ascending power, pro- 
ducing a similar effect on the one behind it. When one of 
the bladders arrived at the knob S, the lever of the valve Q 
struck against it, and opened the valve ; when the bladder 
arrived at U and began to descend, its pressure on the water 
drove out the air, and gave it a descending power ; the knob 
R then closed the valve Q, and prevented the entrance of 
any water into the bladder ; by this* contrivance, three of the 
bladders were full and empty, according as they passed over 
the hole T or the knob S. 

3. De Luc*8 Column. — ^A correspondent (vol. 1, 1823) 
says : — 

Some of your correspondents treat that redoubtable sub- 
ject, perpetual motion, as a chimera ; and others, on the 
contrary, say that they have discovered the long-sought 
object, and prove thereby that it is no chimera. A corre- 
spondent (F. J.) in No. 11 * is one of the latter, but his 
scheme is only in perspective. 

[After a few observations on other communications in the 
Magazine, he proceeds : — "] 

There is now existing a perpetual motion, made by Mr. 

• Among the Notes to Correspondents, p. 176, the Editor says : — 
" F. J. asserts that, so far from * the idea of a self-moving machine * 
being a mere chimera (as our correspondent Mr. Bevan seems to think), 
' had he capital sufficient, he could erect a machine that would do the 
work ol ten thousand horses without any expense but the wear of the 
machinery.' ** 


Wansborough, of Fulham, in June, 1818. It was the inven- 
tion of Professor De Luc, and the mobile is electricity. A 
gold ball, suspended by a silken thread, vibrates against two 
gold pillars, and vibrates perpetually. Its principle I do not 
know, but the Professor explained it satisfactorily to his 
brethren in science. This is but a pretty plaything, and does 
not come within the laws of the desired problem, but it still 
is sufficient to overturn the foundation of Mr. Mactaggart's 

* * When yoimg, I devoted much of my time to this 
subject, and devised at least a dozen schemes, rotatory, pen- 
dulous, &c., and actually constructed several models ; but 
far from being shaken by such repeated failures, though I 
have attained a tolerably sober age, my faith is still firm, and 
so will remain imtil I have proof of my tenets being wrong. 
I shall esteem it a great favour if any one would oblige me 
with this proof, as it might serve to divert my thoughts from 
a future attempt, which I contemplate. 

4. Another Perpetual Pump. — ^A correspondent (vol. 1, 
1823) observes:— 

* * I hope soon, however, to produce something that 
will convince even the scepticism of great minds that a self- 
acting machine is not impossible ; but that I may not lie 
under the charge of giving my ideas only in perspective, I 
will say this much, that the moving power I contemplate is 
to be produced by a pump, so constructed that the same 
power that will raise water ten feet high will raise it to any 
height required, even though it were ten thousand feet. 

[Farther on, the Editor remarks on the above : — ] 

It seems rather obvious that " F. J.'' meant to say " the 
same self-acting principle," not precisely " the same power." 

• Mec. Mag., vol. 1, p. 253. 



6. Archimedean Screw and Mercury. — ^A corre- 
spondent (vol. 1, 1823) thus describes his plan : — 

A is the screw turning on its two pivots G G ; B is a 
cistern to be filled above the level of the lower aperture of 
the screw with mercury (which I conceive to be preferable to 
water on many accounts, and principally because it does not 
adhere or evaporate like water) ; C is a reservoir, which, 
when the screw is turned round, receives the mercury which 
falls from the top ; D is a pipe, which by the force of gravity 
conveys the mercury from the reservoir C on to (what, for 
want of a better term, may be called) the float-board E, 
fixed at right angles to the centre of the screw, and furnished 
at its circumference with ridges or floats to intercept the 
mercury, the moment and weight of which will cause the 
float-board and screw to revolve, until, by the proper inclina- 
tion of the floats, the mercury falls into the receiver F, from 
whence it again falls by its spout into the cistern G, where 
the constant revolution of the screw takes it up again as 

288 PEBPETrrM mobhx; 

[After noticing the friction, kc., be adds : — '] 

To oTercome this (the power of the fluid in the screw to 
turn it backwards), I thought of pbu;ing a metallic ball, or 
some mercurj, on the ledge above the floats (as at H in the 
drawing), of just so much weight, and no more, as would 
exactly neutralize this backward endeaTour ; whether or no 
this would increase the difficulty of raising the mercury in 
the screw I cannot say, having never tried the experiment. 
* * * We ail know the late Mr. Merlin's machine, 
consisting of two magnets poised upon their respective centres, 
and placed within the sphere of each other s influence, by 
which they were said to vibrate in perpetuum ; but the 
general opinion at the time was, that some concealed me- 
chanism was placed underneath, which, indeed, he himself 
never denied. 

6. Plan of l Self-mottng Machine (vol. 1, 1823): — 

[A description of Rangely's Patent Roller Pump having ap- 
peared in the first volume, the writer proposes employing this 
pump, " which is represented as working with no more friction 
than what is occasioned by its revolution on its axis, viz., the 
revolution of a cylinder on its axis delivering water with a 
continual stream, &c., 2kc."] 

I think it possible to produce a self-moving power by such 
a machine as that, a drawing of which is now prefixed. 
From its very simple construction, a very brief description 
is necessary. A represents a pump immersed in a reservoir 
B ; the pump is worked by the rotatory motion of the 
water-wheel C, which is four feet in diameter. On the shaft 
of the water-wheel is the drum-wheel D, working by a small 
cord the wheel E, on the axis of the pump discharging the 
water by the pipe F into a reservoir G over the water-wheel. 
In this reservoir is a cock to regulate the quantity of water 
to be discharged on the wheel. The wheel on the shaft of 
the water-wheel being nine inches diameter, and the wheel 
on the axis of the pump three in diameter, the latter will 
consequently make three revolutions for one of the water- 
wheel. As the pump is not required to turn with great 
velocity, the speed might be regulated by the quantity of 

— ^ 


water thrown on the water-wheel, the latter being four feet 
in diameter, and the wheel on its shaft nine inches ; conse- 
quently the radius or arm of the wheel has near 4^ powers 
to counteract the friction of the axis of the pump and water- 
wheel, and of a fine cord passed over the wheels D and E. 
If necessary, the friction of the machine might be still farther 
reduced by the axes of the pump and water-wheel being made 
to run in gudgeons with friction rollers. 

The pipe H is intended to convey the surplus water from 
the reservoir over the wheel to the reservoir below. 

The pump might easily be turned by a cog-wheel ; but 
this is unnecessary, as the cord passing over the drum-wheels 
will do equally well, and is, besides, a more simple method. 

7. Plan by Magnetism (vol. 4, 1825). — Its inventor 
writes : — 

Let those laugh now who never laugh*d hefore ; 
Let those who ever laugh'd, now laugh the more. 

« « « « 

You will agree with me that the universe is a display of 
perpetual motion, and that such a thing does, beyond all 
doubt, exist. The co-operation and nice combination of what 
or how many various causes (each perhaps governed by dif- 
ferent laws, and opposite in their effects) which produce this 
perpetual motion, it might be presumptuous to endeavour to 
ascertain ; suffice it to know, that all concur in a most won- 
derful manner to exhibit what man is striving to discover, 
and hitherto in vain. 

I coincide in opinion with those who consider there are 
insurmountable difficulties to the discovery of perpetual 
motion by any machinery wholly subservient to the laws of 
gravity and the mechanical powers ; and as the perpetual 
motion of the universe is not effected under the laws of 
gravity only, there appears but little probability of man's 
discovering it by such machinery. 

By consulting nature's laws generally, success is more 
likely to follow ; and, indeed, an invisible (but well-known) 
agency is available for the purpose. I have, therefore, re- 


PEKPETUUM mobile; 

sorted to an auxiliary that operates wholly independent of, 
and in opposition to gravity, to effect perpetual motion ; with 
what success you will see. 

Description. — The above drawing represents a wheel of 
one foot in diameter, revolving on its centre C. Its circum- 
ference R K K is a thin steel hoop, or rim, three quarters of 
an inch broad, formed in the indented manner delineated, 
and connected to the centre by two bars h b h h. (The 
thin edge of the rim presents itself to view.) 

M M M are three magnets fixed totally unconnected with 
the wheel. Their poles are placed as close as possible to its 
rim, but not to touch it, to impede its going round. These 
three magnets are so disposed as alternately to exert their 
full attractive powers, at right angles, on the flat indented 
surface of the steel rim of the wheel ; and as it moves round, 
the attraction of one magnet does not cease its operation 
until another magnet exerts its full power. 

The weight of the wheel on the side next the magnets 
being thus continually lifted, or rendered lighter, by the 
attraction of the magnets, causes the weight of the opposite 
side of the wheel to preponderate on its centre, and the 
wheel to revolve, and to continue a perpetual rotatory 
motion, at least as long as the magnets retain their attracting 


8. Account of several Schemes (vol. 4, 1825). By 
F. Bell, who states that — 

About five or six years ago, a young man, a Scotchman, of 
considerable ability, stumbled upon this attractive plan of 
producing a perpetual motion. Confident of the truth of his 
principle, and giddy with the dreams of riches which he had 
been told would await the happy inventor of this long-sought 
desideratum in mechanics, he gave up all his emoluments 
in Scotland, and hastened to London, for the purpose of 
getting his machine constructed in a superior manner. The 
workman he employed was a Mr. Allen, then resident in the 
neighbourhood of Fetter-lane. The principle he employed 
was exactly similar to that of your correspondent, but more 
complex in its application. After a lapse of some months, 
the machine was finished ; and, with beating heart, the 
magnet was applied to produce efiects which should astonish 
the world ; but, alas ! how shall I describe it ? It was at 
that moment discovered that the magnetic influence was 
exerted equally to the right and left ; and that, instead of the 
pieces of soft iron, disposed at equal distances round the 
circumference, being only pulled or attracted in one direction, 
they were equally acted upon in the opposite, and conse- 
quently no motion ensued. 

It is about three years since that another person, also a 
native of North Britain, proposed a new power to propel 
carriages on the road and ships at sea, and exhibited a model 
of his engine in Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly. It consisted 
of a wheel moved (as he pretended) by this self-same prin- 
ciple of magnetism. The magnet, of a spherical form, was 
placed on a plate of metal, or, rather, mixture of metals (as 
he said), which had the rare power of intercepting the mag- 
netic attraction, and consequently preventing the re-action 
which was fatal in the other case. I believe Mr. Gill took 
thfi trouble to expose this pretender in his " Technical Re- 

I had an opportunity, some time ago, of reading a letter 
from a person who had witnessed a similar invention, made 
by a Mr. John Spence, shoemaker, at Linlithgow, also in 
" Scotland's Isle.'* It consisted of a needle nicely balanced 

• See Chapter VI., p. 18*. 


on a pivot, which was kept in continual motion by its poles 
being alternately attracted by two magnets, properly placed, 
and whose attraction was regularly cut off through the inter- 
vention of intercepting substances, which Mr. Spence was 
represented as having spent twenty or thirty years in finding 

It was also stated that he was at that time constructing an 
apparatus applicable to time-keepers, which he was going to 
present to the Royal Society, but, not having since heard of 
him or his intended communication to that learned body, I 
am afraid that Death has stepped in, and intercepted him in 
his laudable pursuits. 

« « « « « 

9. Spence's Pebpettjal Motion (vol. 4, 1826) : — 

* * About two years since, a person named Haigh 
(a native, I believe, of Yorkshire) called on me with what he 
called a " perpetual motion." I inquired why he did not 
present it to some learned body in London, instead of travel- 
ling with it as an exhibition. He replied that, as he was not 
himself the inventor, he was afraid he should not be attended 
to. He said it was invented by the late Mr. John Spence, of 
Linlithgow, near Edinburgh, who, being on his journey to 
London to present it to the Royal Society, was taken ill in 
some part of Yorkshire, where, after a lingering illness, he 
died ; and that he bequeathed the machine to him in grati- 
tude for the assistance he had received from him during his 
illness. • The construction of the machine was as pointed out 
by Mr. Bell, with this difference : — the needle was attached 
to a brass balance, about the size and weight of the balance 
of a watch, beyond the edge of which it projected. He 
suffered me, after having witnessed its swift rotatory motion 
for about half an hour, to remove the balance, &c., from the 
frame in which it acted, when I found the pivot and holes 
very much worn, which convinced me it must have been in 
action a considerable time (he said it had, nearly six years). 
On replacing it, and blowing slightly against the edge of the 
balance, it instantly commenced its action as before, i.e., with 
the same steady velocity, making about one hundred and 

• See pp. 182, 226. 


sixty revolutions in a minute, which I again witnessed a con- 
siderable time ; nor did Haigh appear the least impatient to 
put an end to the gratification I was experiencing. 

The following extract of a letter from Capt. Bagnold, R.M., 
Member of the Society of Arts, Haigh left with me : — 

" Liverpool, May 2, 1820. 

" Having inspected Mr. S. Haigh's exhibition of a mag- 
netic perpetual motion, I prevailed upon him to permit* the 
approach of a powerful horae-shoe magnet, the property of 
Mr. Eyewater, of this town. When in contact with the glass 
on one side, it produced no very striking alteration ; when 
held perpendicularly over the case, it appeared rather to 
accelerate the revolution of the needle ; but when removed 
to the opposite side, its . efiect was instantly visible, — the 
needle was suddenly checked, and seemed to recover its 
motion by successive impulses. From the foregoing circum- 
stances, I am clearly of opinion Mr. Haigh's exhibition is a 
fair specimen of perpetual motion by magnetic influence, and 
the experiment has totally banished from my mind all sus- 
picion of deception ; and I strongly recommend Mr. Haigh 
by no means to repeat the experiment, lest injury should 
accrue to so ingenious an invention." 

Sir, yours, &c., 
JRiCHARD Price, Watchmaker and Silversmith. 

Wiveliscombe, Somerset, June 13, 1825. 

10. Perpetual Motion on Philosophical Principles 
(vol. 4, 1825) :— 

The following is copied from a foreign work : should you 
consider it worthy publication, it is much at your service. 

R. W. Dickinson. 

" The power is at present applied to the machinery of a 
clock ; this clock, unconnected with the power, is calculated 
to go for two years without winding up, by the weight of a 
single pound, that gives motion to a pendulum of twenty 
pounds, which moves through a space of 518*400 inches in 
twenty-four hours, while the small maintaining weight (a 
single pound) descends only 1-lOth of an inch. The internal 
work of the clock consists of three wheels. In order that 
the superiority of this movement may be obvious to every 
understanding, as well as to those more conversant with the 

296 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

more difficult parts of mechanics, it is necessary to mention 
that the common eight-day clock requires a weight of four- 
teen pounds, where this only requires the weight of one, is 
wound up once in eight days, and moves a pendulum of three 
pounds and a half, where this moves one of twenty, and is 
wound up only once in two years. In twenty-four hours, 
the maintaining weight of the common clock descends six 
inches, in this it descends only 1-1 0th of an inch. The least 
weight which we at present recollect to have heard of being 
used by the first artist in London is five or six pounds, where 
this requires only one, in consequence of the diminution of 
friction. So far it has been thought necessary to describe 
this clock in comparison with the common one. 

" We now come to that part to which extraordinary merit 
is to be ascribed — the faculty of winding itself up without 
the intervention of human power. This faculty is derived 
from the weight of the atmosphere, and can never cease 
(under the conditions after mentioned) while the machine 
lasts, and while a column of air either loses or gains l-150th 
part of its common weight five times in the space of two 
years, the time which the clock goes without requiring any 
assistance ; or, in other words, as long as the change of the 
weight of the air, five times in the space of two years, shall 
be such as to cause the mercury either to ascend or fall 
2-lOths of an inch in the barometer above or below its mean 
height. The wearing out of wheels, or of any kind of ma- 
chinery, by friction, never can be avoided ; accordingly, it 
has never been required in the discovery of a perpetual 
motion. It is therefore sufficient, on that subject, to say that 
the present machine, upon a fair comparison of its friction 
with that of the common clock, would probably move five 
centuries, a period sufficient for any purpose that can be 

11. A Hydbo-pneumatic Plan. — A correspondent (vol. 4, 
1825) says :— 

The unsuccessful (but far from fruitless) search made to dis- 
cover the *' philosopher's stone," and the "elixir vitae," were 
productive of most important and beneficial results in the king- 
dom of chemistry ; so, by a parity of consequence, I am 
disposed to believe that, from enquiry after the "perpetual 



motion" (though equally unsuccessful), a similar good will 
result to the mechanical world. * * I beg leave to offer 
the prefixed device. The point at which, like all the rest, it 
fails, I confess I did not (as I do now) plainly perceive at once, 
although it is certainly very obvious. The original idea was 
this — to enable a body which would float in a heavy medium 
and sink in a lighter one, to pass successively through the one 
to the other, the continuation of which would be the end in 
view. To say that vdves cannot be made to act as proposed 
will not be to show the rationale (if I may so say) upon which 
the idea is fallacious. 

The figure is supposed to be tubular, and made of glass, 
for the purpose of seeing the action of the balls inside, which 
float or fall as they travel from air through water and from 
water through air. The foot is supposed to be placed in 

298 PEHPETUUM mobile; 

water, but it would answer the same purpose if the bottom 
were closed. 

Description of the Engbaying. — ^No. 1, the left leg, 
filled with water from B to A. 2 and 3, valves, having in 
their centres very small projecting valves : they all open 
upwards. 4, the right leg, containing air from A to F. 
5 and 6, valves, having very small ones in their centres : they 
all opsn downwards. The whole apparatus supposed to be 
air and water-tight. The round figures represent hollow 
balls, which will sink one-fourth of their bulk in water (of 
course will fall in air) ; the weight, therefore, of three balls 
resting upon one ball in water, as at E, will just bring its 
top even with the water's edge ; the weight of four balls will 
sink it under the surface until the ball immediately over it is 
one-fourth its bulk in water, when the under ball will escape 
round the corner at C, and begin to ascend. 

The machine is supposed (in the figure) to be in action, 
and No. 8 (one of the balls) to have just escaped round the 
comer at C, and to be, by its buoyancy, rising up to valve 
No. 3, striking first the small projecting valve in the centre, 
which, when opened, the large one will be raised by the 
buoyancy of the ball ; because, the moment the small valve 
in the centre is opened (although only the size of a pin's 
head), No. 2 valve will have taken upon itself to sustain the 
whole column of water from A to B. The said ball ( No. 8) 
having passed through the valve No. 3, will, by appropriate 
weights or springs, close ; the ball will proceed upwards to 
the next valve (No. 2), ami perform the same operation there. 
Having arrived at A, it will float upon the surface three- 
fourths of its bulk out of water. Upon another ball in due 
course arriving under it, it will be lifted quite out of the 
water, and fall over the point D, pass into the right leg (con- 
taining air), and fall to valve No. 6, strike .and open the 
small valve in its centre, then open the large one, and pass 
through; this valve will then, by appropriate weights or 
springs, close, the ball will roll on through the bent tube 
(which is made in that form to gain time as well as to exhibit 
motion) to the next valve (!> o. 6), where it will perform the 
same operation, and then, falling upon the four balls at E, 
force the bottom one round the corner at C. This ball will 
proceed as did No. 8, and the rest in the same manner suc- 


12. F. Bell's Endless Band with Cork Floats (vol. 4, 
1825). — ^After commenting on perpetual motion schemes, he 
says : — 

I certainly consider the idea of gaining a perpetual motion 
by the passing of bodies through mediums of different 
densities is a ver^j ingenious one, as it is the same in effect as 
if the specific gravity of the moving bodies was a variable 
quantity, which agrees very well with the definition of De la 
Hire — viz., to find a body heavier and lighter than itself. 
[He then gives the following as a better plan : — ] 
Let an endless chain or rope be passed over a pulley, and 
through a hole of similar diameter made in the bottom of a 
vessel filled with water, so that one half of the rope will 
always be in the water, and the other half in air. Now, 
let this chain or rope be divided into equal links or divisions, 
and constructed in the following manner: — Let pieces of cork, 
or any other light substance, be attached to the rope exactly 
in the same manner as the whalebones are fastened to the 
stick of an umbrella, so that they may form a complete 
cylinder, when passing through the hole in the bottom of the 
vessel, and prevent the water from rushing out; but the 
moment one of these links gets through the hole (which will 
be immediately filled by another) these pieces of cork will 
radiate, or fly out, like the spokes of a wheel, and exert a 
force proportionate to- their lightness, to ascend to the top of 
the vessel, and thus give motion to the machine. 

* * * * « 

Although it is my opinion that the " Century of Inven- 
tions" has been the means of forming many a mechanical 
mind, by creating a spirit of enquiry after those subjects, yet 
I also believe it has fallen into the hands of few persons who 
have not from that time become determined perpetual- 
motionists ; for, if we can place any reliance upon the 
invention No. 56, which seems so well attested, the Marquis 
was undoubtedly in the secret. The plan which most people 
adopt, who would accomplish the point by means of weights, 
is, I dare say, familiar* to most of your readers — viz., by 
means of falling levers, a description of which may be seen 
in the "Mathematical Recreations," translated by the late 
Dr. Hutton ; but, as the Doctor observes, " it may be easily 
shown that there is oile position of the wheel in which the 

300 PERPETxriTM mobile; 

system is in equilibrium, and consequently will stop :" the 
plan may therefore be given up as untangible. I have seen 
and read of many attempts to overcome this obstacle by 
means of springs, &c., but they have been attended with no 
better success. I am, however, in possession of a method of 
constructing the machine so that "all the weights on the 
descending side of the wheel shall be perpetually further 
from the centre than those of the mounting side," by which 
arrangements there seems to be an equilibrium in every 
position of the wheel. 

13. Another Band with Cosk Floats. — A corre- 
spondent (vol. 4, 1825) states that he attempted a continued 
motion precisely on the foregoing plan. He says : — 

The experiment I made was with a number of corks, strung 
at intervals for the purpose, and passed through an aperture 
in the bottom of a glass vessel, to which they were fitted. 
As might be expected, the weight of the column of water 
over the aperture was superior to the buoyancy of the corks^ 
and upon their being pressed upwards they were forced back 
again to the aperture. This to me was sufficient, for the 
expansion of these corks in the manner described by Mr. 
Bell would, it appeared to me, not in the least increase their 
buoyancy, unless their bulk could also be increased at the 
same time. 

14. Pebpetital Motion Discoveeed ; or, a Plan by which 
a Vessel may be made to continue in powerful motion, without 
any assistance, as long as her materials endure (vo^. 6, 1825). 
— The inventor states : — 

The principle on which I depend is the well-known law in 
hydrostatics, that the pressure of water is the same at the 
same depth, whatever may be the diameter of the vessel that 
contains it. 

Let a boat be constructed, having a bottom as flat as pos- 
sible. Let two parallel boards (each of equal dimensions 
with the bottom of the boat) be strongly connected together, 
having an interval between them of about an inch. By a 
contrivance similar to that which unites the upper with the 


lower board of a common bellows, affix these boards, thus 
connected, to the bottom of the boat, in such a manner that 
they may be readily susceptible of an alternate ascending and 
descending motion, in a space of about two or three feet in 
height, to which water must have no access. In the centre 
of these boards, or of this moveable frame, ^x a strong iron 
rod, extending upwards through the boat, and attached to 
the machinery for working the paddles. In the upper part 
of the moveable frame make a small aperture, to which 
firmly secure a narrow tube, extending upwards through a 
liole in the bottom of the boat. At the bottom of this tube 
let there be a sliding valve, which by a very simple con- 
trivance can be closed the very moment that the frame 
reaches its greatest distance from the bottom of the boat, 
and as speedily re-opened when the frame comes in contact 
with the boat. Through this narrow tube pour water into 
the moveable frame, until both it and the tube are full. The 
space between the frame and the bottom of the boat must 
be always free from water. The vessel now is ready for 
action. Let us suppose that, owing to the upward pressure 
of the sea, the frame is now in contact with the bottom of 
the vessel ; to remove it to its greatest distance from the 
vessel, nothing more is required (according to the above 
principle in hydrostatics) than an altitude of water within 
the narrow tube a little greater than the level of the sea ; or, 
if the tube be not sufficiently long, a weight pressing on the 
water within the tube equal to the weight of a column of 
water of the required altitude, will be equally efficient, and 
far more convenient. If the valve be opened, this altitude 
of water will be applied, and the frame will then be forced 
to its greatest distance from the bottom of the vessel, and 
will then, consequently, have closed the valve. The valve 
being closed, the pressure of the water in the tube is no 
longer continued on the sheet of water within the moveable 
frame, so that the sea will then, with a power nearly equal 
to the weight of the vessel, force the frame upwards with 
the iron rod affixed to it, and thereby set the machinery and 
paddles in vigorous motion, and impel the vessel either 
against the tide or in any other direction which may be 
required. When the frame comes again into contact with 
the bottom of the vessel, the valve is again opened — the 
water in the tube again presses on that within the frame — 



the frame again descends ; and thus it will continue ad 
infinitum, without any assbtance whatever. 

[He proposes placing it in a " circular channel.'] 

16. Pekpetxtal Pump (vol. 5, 1826). — Its inventor says : — 

The description of the perpetual pump has suggested to 
me whether the long-sought ''perpetual motion" may not 
be found by a simple mechanical alteration of that macbine, 
and substituting a cannon-ball as a prtmum mobile^ in lieu of 
the water, not always obtainable. I would recommend that 
in the bottom of the trough be inserted, at each end, two 
dropping-boards, of a triangular form, moving on an axis at 
one comer, one of which falling below the level of the 
trough at the elevated end, the other shall be raised by the 
stop affixed to the standard-post, which, throwing the ball 
again back to the former end, shall depress that, until the 
same process is repeated in perpetual activity. 




Desckiption. — Fig. 1. A, the trough, swinging on an axis 
at B. C, the cannon-ball, raised by one of the dropping- 
boards, D, whilst the other falls through the opening at E, 
into the trough. F, the support or stop, raising the dropping- 
board D. The centre of the trough ought to be pierced. 


leaving the sides as a support to the ball, which ought not to 
be wider than the ball may travel freely through. 

Fig. 2. DD, the dropping-boards, which pass through 
the centre, so as to leave a sufficiency of the trough as a 
resting-place for the ball to give a momentum, and depress 
the trough, previously to its being again raised by the 

16. Pebpetuax Clock (vol. 6, 1826). — ^A correspondent 
says : — 

Allow me to state that six or seven years ago I saw part 
of an apparatus which I was informed had been at work two 
years, and then taken to pieces. It was a pendulum clock, 
the spring of which was wound up by the rising and falling 
of the mercury, acted on in two tubes by the atmosphere, 
every variation of which, whether it tended to rise or depress 
the mercury, still acted the same way on the spring. — ^T. N. 

17. Ancient Attempt at Pebpettjal Motion (vol. 6, 
1826) :— 

The imderwritten is translated from an ancient Latin book 
* * * (entitled " De Simla Naturae," Autore 

Roberto Fludd),* which treats of every science known at the 
time it was published, and largely of the science of mechanics. 
What follows I have extracted merely to show that the dis- 
covery of the perpetual motion was as nearly attained then, 
perhaps, as it is now. — I am, &c., P. 

Of another useful invention for raising water easily* hy the which a 
certain Italian ventured to boast that he had discovered the Per- 
petual Motion, 

Descbiption of the Instbxjment. — A is an exhauster, 
or pimip. 

B, a little wheel placed at the bottom of the exhauster, 
about which pestils, or circular flaps of prepared leather, 
revolve lightly, so that they rise easily : they are connected 
by crooked iron.f 

• See Chapter I., p. 28. 
f Bent iron wire, I imagine, by the plate. 



C C C, pestils, or circular leathers, by means of which the 
water is raised in the pump. 

D, a wheel, by which the said circular leathers are raised up. 

E, a pinion, moving the wheels D and B. 

F is a wheel, continued from the wheel G, whose teeth thfe 
pinion E propels circularly. 

H, a pinion moving the wheel G. 

tVt_i ^^ 


















Use of the Instrument. — This instnmient is classed 
with those of the first sort,* on which account it is absolutely 
necessary for a multitude of purposes, because it bears 

* In refcreuce to previous rules. 


upward a large quantity of water with the least labour ; for 
the number of wheels is not variable ; but the length of the 
receiver A is about the proportion of 85 feet, and its breadth 
one foot and one-third. The concavities of it should be 
made exactly round, that they* may not lose any water by 
contracting in their ascension ; the concavity of the pump, 
therefore, should be perfectly round. The great water-wheel 
should be 24 feet diameter, and the wheel G 20 feet. 

The Italian, deceived by his own thoughts, conceived that 
as much water would be raised by this pump as would keep 
the wheel perpetually in motion ; because he said that more 
force was required at the extremity of this macliine than at 
the centre;! but because he calculated the proportions of 
power wrong, he was deceived (undeceived) in practice. 

This last remark is a dose for many perpetual motion 

18. Obchabd's VACTTtJM Engine (vol. 6, 1826). — He 
considers the following a great improvement on a plan he had 
formerly suggested. It is meant to be a self-supplying 
engine : — 

A is an iron reservoir nearly filled with mercury ; B, a tube 
twenty-four inches long, having its lower end inserted in that 
reservoir ; and C and D two cocks for the convenience of 
filling the tube B. From this tube another tube M proceeds 
at right angles, to the vessel G. In this latter tube is the 
cock F, to admit of, or shut off, a communication between 
the tube and the vessel G. This communication being closed, 
the tube B is carefully filled with mercury ; after which, the 
cock D is closed, and the cap E screwed on. 

The vessel G is to be filled with mercury through the cock 
H, the pipe I being open to allow of the escape of air. 
"When this vessel has been filled, the cock H should be closed, 
and its cap screwed on ; and the pipe I be also closed by a 
valve, which is to be pressed tight by the cap on the head of 
the pipe. I is a vent-pipe, open at the top. The space repre- 
sented by the double lines is a panel of thick plate glass, 

• The circular leathers, 
t The pump ? 


PERPETUUM mobile; 

having two horizontal lines described on its surface, whereby 
the attendant may observe the quantity of mercury within the 


The cock F being closed, a quantity of mercury must be 
allowed to rim out of the vessel G, equal to the space 1, 2, 3, 
4, which space will become a vacuum. If, therefore, the 
cock L be then opened, to allow of the discharge of a certain 
quantity of mercury on the wheel, and the cocks C and L 
also opened, the mercury will continually rise from the 
reservoir A into the vessel G, and thence be discharged on 


the wheel, whence it will again fall into the vessel A, to keep 
up the supply. The cock F must be so adjusted as to admit 
into the vessel G a quantity of mercury equal to that which 
is discharged by the cock L. This can be ascertained and 
regulated by means of the panel of glass above described. 

The specific gravity of mercury being 7^ oimces, it is 
evident that but a small quantity of it is required to turn the 
wheel, which has no friction but that of the axis on which it 

19. A Perpetual Motion at Stutgartt (vol. 6, 1826). 
— A correspondent writes : — 

I beg to take this opportimity of stating my knowledge of 
the truth of perpetual motion having been accomplished by 
magnets placed round a circular box, enclosing a steel- vaned 
wheel, and also that there is now a machine incessantly at 
work, without assistance, in the famous library at Stutgard, 
by which a bar (hung by a pivot through the middle) in an 
upright position, between two pillars, with a ball at each end, 
the top one being a little heavier than the one below, con- 
tinues to vibrate by the top ball alternately falling upon and 
rebounding from each pillar. How this is performed I am 
ignorant, as the person who saw it and described it to me 
did not examine it with the eye of a machinist, but was 
merely eye-witness to the effects. 

[He begs the favour of a description and drawing.] 

20. Water Blowing Machine applied to the Pro- 
duction OF Perpetual Motion (vol. 7, 1827). — The 
inventor writes : — 

I am encouraged to send you the following attempt at 
perpetual motion, because I think it is upon a principle that 
has not yet been examined in your pages. 

In Dr. Brewster's appendix to Ferguson's Lectures, the 
following description is given of what is called a " Water 
Blowing Machine :" — " Let A B (see Fig.) be a cistern of 
water, with the bottom of which is connected the bended 
leaden pipe B C H. The lower extremity, H, of the pipe is 



PEHPETxriTM mobile: 

inserted into the top of a cask or vessel^ D E, called the 
condensing vessel, having the pedestal P fixed to its bottom, 
which is perforated with two openings, M N. When the 
water which comes from the cistern A is falling through the 
part, C H. of the pipe, it is supplied by the openings or tubes, 
mn opy with a quantity of air which it carries along with it. 

This mixture of air and water, issuing from the aperture H, 
and impinging upon the surface of the stone pedestal P, is 
driven back and dispersed in various directions. The air 
being thus separated from the water, ascends into the upper 
part of the vessel, and rushes through the opening, F, whence 
it is conveyed to the fire, while the water falls to the lower 
part of the vessel, and rims out by the openings M N." The 
author then goes on to describe the construction of the pipe 
B C H, in the curve of which some nicety is required, and 
to explain some atmospherical phenomena upon the principle 
of this machine, adding that " Franciscus Tertius de Lanis 
observes that he has seen a greater wind generated by a 
blowing machine of this kind than could be produced by 
bellows ten or twelve feet long." 


Now, if, instead of the pedestal P, a wheel were placed in 
the condensing vessel, as in the figure, would not the water, 
in falling upon the wheel, be sufficiently dispersed to disen- 
gage the air at the same time that it drove the wheel, and 
would not the motion of the wheel be retarded by the density 
of the internal air ? 

I do not apprehend that any considerable resistance would 
be offered by the internal air, and the motion of the wheel 
can be regulated by its load, so as to offer a sufficient resist- 
ance to the descending stream of water ; and I therefore 
assume that the water, in its descent, would produce, by 
means of the wheel, a power capable of raising a part of the 
water expended back again to the cistern ; and this is the 
extent of the power of most of those machines which have 
been mistaken for perpetual motions by their projectors. But 
I have a blast of wind which is described as being of great 
force. Can this blast be in any way applied to raise the 
surplus water ? I think I see the smile which the proposal 
will produce in those who deny the possibility of a perpetual 
motion. " A mere puff of wind !" is, doubtless, ejaculated 
from all sides. But, let me tell these gentlemen that, though 
I may not know any method by which such blast can produce 
that effect, it does not by any means follow that the impossi- 
bility of the thing is thence to be presumed. Far from it ; 
for such a conclusion rests upon the supposition that the 
powers and application of a blast of wind are fully known, 
and that no research or experience can add to our knowledge 
on that subject — assumptions which appear to me somewhat 
ridiculous. Allow me, for the sake of argument, to suppose 
that this blast, instead of wind, had been a blast of steam. Time 
was, when wise men would have smiled, and said, " A puff of 
steam — ^a mere puff of steam !" — and had some one, more 
sanguine than the rest, attempted, by its application, to 
produce a motion, he would have applied it to the float- 
boards of a wheel, as in Branca' s engine, and have been dis- 
appointed. It is notigiven to man to know when the powers 
of any great agent have been fully developed ; and those who 
act upon such presumptions throw the greatest obstacles in 
the way of enquiry. But, to shew the anti-perpetualists that 
within their own time, since the commencement of the 
"Mechanics' Magazine,'* an addition has been made to our 
knowledge of the powers of a blast of wind, I have added a 

310 PERPETUUM mobile; 

tube, G, to my figure, the proposed use of which I shall now 

In a part of the " Mechanics' Magazine," published some 
time ago, there was described a novel mode of raising water 
in a tube,* by directing a stream of air over its mouth, thereby 
destroying the pressure of the atmosphere. 

[He asks the author of this experiment " to what height 
he has raised water by this means."] 

I do not suppose it will rise to the height of the cistern as 
I have figured it ; but it may still be a question whether it 
may not be accomplished by a series of short tubes, the 
bottom of the one being placed in the cistern into which the 
next below discharges its water, each being constructed with 
a blast and two valves, in the same manner as the single 
tube — namely, the valves x (under water) and y, worked in 
such a manner, by the arms K L, that the one may shut 
when the other opens. Presuming that the water will rise 
to the top of the tube, when the blast is in action {x open 
and y shut), the water in the part of the tube between the 
blast and y will be discharged into the cistern at the next 
motion of the valves — ^namely, when x is shut and y opened, 
the blast, at the same time, being discontinued. 

21. Editorial Note, and Letter on Perpetual Motion 
(vol. 7, 1827) :— 

[The subject of perpetual motion having been recently 
again brought imder discussion in our pages, our impartiality 
and candour have been appealed to for the insertion of the 
following plan. * * There is always one advantage at- 
tending the publication of even the most absurd schemes of 
this kind, that they produce refutations which serve to make 
the true principles of mechanics better and better understood 
among ingenious men, and to induce numbers silently to 
abandon the prosecution of plans equally absurd, and equally 
cherished with the fondest regard. — Ed.] 


Amid all the fruitless attempts which have appeared, there 
* Rather, the short leg of a sypbou, by blowing with a pair of bellows. 


was still one avenue to the object of pursuit overlooked, to 
wliicli the common and well-known principles of hydrostatics 
seemed to direct the way : this was the principle that any 
body specifically, or bulk for bulk, lighter than common air, will 
rise and swim in it. Consequently, if I attach a certain quantity 
of vessels, at equal distances, round the circumference or rim 
of a wheel, so contrived as that one half of the vessels 
shall be exhausted on one side of the wheel, and the other 
half filled with air on the opposite side, in this case the ex- 
hausted vessels will attain the highest part of the wheel, and 
the full ones the lowest. But to render the matter more 
explicit, I must refer to the prefixed drawing. 

A B C D are four vessels, connected to the wheels E E 
(though only one is shewn, to prevent confusion) by round 
pins, a a a a^ which project from the vessels on each side, 
and enter into corresponding holes in the wheels E E. The 
wheels E E are caused to revolve by the space under the 
vessel B being a vacuum, and therefore lighter than the same 
portion of air: a little before the vessel B reaches the 
highest point of the wheels, it begins to close, and opens the 
opposite vessel D, in the same manner as the vessel C opens 
A, because the pressure of the atmosphere on the vessel C is 
equal to the pressure on A. Instead of common packing to 
make the vessels air-tight, mercury is substituted, which has 
infinitely less friction, and is never out of order : it is repre- 
sented by the black marks in the drawing. The particles of 
mercury not being entirely free from friction, a little power is 
requisite to open and shut the vessels ; this is effected by the 
rods F F, connected to the levers G G G G by chains. The 
rods F F give motion to other rods, H H, by the rollers 
h hh b acting against the collars on the rods H H. Again, 
the levers G G G G are successively worked by sliding over 
the roller P. The connecting-rods H H are so adjusted as 
not to draw the vessels out of their upright position, which 
would let the mercury escape ; also, the lower vessels A and 
D are made rather larger in diameter than B C, so as the 
pressure of the atmosphere may counterpoise the weight of 
the vessels A C and B D, with their connecting-rods, &c. 

I doubt not in the least, that if a pneumatic machine like 
this were accurately executed, it would continue in perpetual 
motion ; yet I still think the power might be greatly increased 
by placing the whole engine under a receiver of condensed 


air, say from ten to twelve atmospheres, wHch would weigli, 
if it were ten atmospheres, about twelve ounces per cubic foot. 

22. Scheme of Pekpetual Motion (vol. 7, 1827). By- 
Sir W. Congreve, Bart. — The following article is from the 
" Atlas ;"— 

The celebrated Boyle entertained an idea that perpetual 
motion might be obtained by means of capillary attraction ; 
and, indeed, there seems but little doubt that nature has 
employed this force in many instances to produce this effect. 

There are many situations in which there is every reason 
to believe that the sources of springs on the tops and sides 
of mountains depend on the accumulation of water created 
at certain elevations by the operation of capillary attraction, 
acting in large masses of porous material, or through lami- 
nated substances. These masses being saturated, in process 
of time become the sources of springs and the heads of rivers; 
and thus, by an endless round of ascending and descending 
waters, form, on the great scale of nature, an incessant cause 
of perpetual motion, in the purest acceptance of the term, 
and precisely on the principle that was contemplated by 
Boyle. It is probable, however, that any imitation of this 
process on the limited scale practicable by human art would 
not be of sufficient magnitude to be effective. Nature, by 
the immensity of her operations, is able to allow for a slow- 
ness of process which would baffle the attempts of man in 
any direct and simple imitation of her works. Working, 
therefore, upon the same causes, he finds himself obliged to 
take a more complicated mode to produce the same effect.* 

To amuse the hours of a long confinement from illness. 
Sir William Congreve has recently contrived a scheme of 
perpetual motion, founded on this principle of capillary 

• A familiar instance of a continuous round of interchanging cause 
and effect, produced by this capillary process, and limited only by the 
duration of the materials, is furnished by a common candle. The flame 
melts the wax or tallow, which, ascending the fibres of the wick, keeps 
that flame alive ; so that, literally speaking, the flame is the active cause 
of its own existence, — a sort of paradox, precisely similar to that which 
our perpetual motion seekers have so long been vainly endeavouring to 
realize. — Ed. ** Mec. Mag." 



attraction, which, it is apprehended, will not be subject to 
the general refutation applicable to those plans in which the 
power is supposed to be derived from gravity only. Sir 
William's perpetual motion is as follows : — 

^Fig. 1.) 

Let A B C be three horizontal rollers fixed in a frame ; 
a a a^ &c., is an endless band of sponge, running round these 
rollers ; and h h h^ &c., is an endless chain of weights, sur- 
rounding the band of sponge, and attached to it, so that they 
must move together ; every part of this band and chain 
being so accurately uniform in weight that the perpendicular 
side A B will, in all positions of the band and chain, be in 
equilibrium with the hjrpothenuse A C, on the principle of 
the inclined plane. Now, if the frame in which these rollers 
are fixed be placed in a cistern of water, having its lower 
part immersed therein, so that the water's edge cuts the 
upper part of the rollers B C, then, if the weight and quan- 
tity of the endless chain be duly proportioned to the thickness 
and breadth of the band of sponge, the band and chain will, 
on the water in the cistern being brought to the proper level, 
begin to move round the rollers in the direction A B, by the 
force of capillary attraction, and will continue so to move. 
The process is as follows : — 

On the side A B of the triangle, the weights 6 5 6, &c., 
hanging perpendicularly alongside the band of sponge, the 

316 PEEPETxruM mobile; 

band is not compressed by them, and its pores being left 
open, the water at the point x, at which the band meets its 
surface, will rise to a certain height, y, above its level, and 
thereby create a load, which load will not exist on the 
ascending side C A, because on this side the chain of weights 
compresses the band at the water's edge, and squeezes out 
any water that may have previously accumulated in it ; so 
that the band rises in a djy state, the weight of the chain 
having been so proportioned to the breadth and thickness ot 
the band as to be sufficient to produce this effect. The load, 
therefore, on the descending side A B, not being opposed by 
any similar load on the ascending side, and the equilibrium 
of the other parts not being disturbed by the alternate 
expansion and compression of the sponge, the band will begin 
to move in the direction A B ; and as it moves downwards, 
the accumulation of water will continue to rise, and thereby 
carry on a constant motion, provided the load at ar y be suffi- 
cient to overcome the friction on the rollers ABC. 

Now, to ascertain the quantity of this load in any particular 
machine, it must be stated that it is found by experiment 
that the water will rise in a fine sponge about an inch above 
its level ; if, therefore, the band and sponge be one foot 
thick and six feet broad, the area of its horizontal section in 
contact with the water would be 864 square inches, and the 
weight of the accumulation of water raised by the capillary 
attraction being one inch rise upon 864 square inches, would 
be 30 lbs., which, it is conceived, would be much more than 
equivalent to the friction of the rollers. 

The deniers of this proposition, on the first view of the 
subject, will say, it is true the accumulation of the weight on 
the descending side thus occasioned by the capillary attrac- 
tion, would produce a perpetual motion, if there were not as 
much power lost on the ascending side by the change of 
position of the weights, in pressing the water out of the 

The point now to be established is, that the change in the 
position of the weights will not cause any loss of power. 
For this purpcce, we must refer to the following diagram. 

With reference to this diagram, suppose a a a^ &c., an 
endless strap, and h hh^ &c., an endless chain running round 
the rollers ; A B C not having any sponge between them, 
but kept at a certain distance from each other by small and 



inflexible props, p p p, &c., then the sides A B and C A 
would, in all positions of this system, be precisely an equi- 
librium, so as to require only a small increment of weight on 
either side to produce motion. Now, we contend that this 
equilibrium would still remain unaffected, if small springs 
were mtroduced m lieu of the inflexible props p pp, so that 

(Fig. 2.) 

the chain h b h might approach the lower strap a a a, by 
compressing these small springs with its weight on the 
ascending side ; for although the centre of gravity of any 
portion of chain would move in a different line in the latter 
case — ^foT instance, in the dotted line — still the quantity of 
the actual weight of every inch of the strap and chain would 
remain precisely the same in the former case, where they are 
kept at the same distance in all positions, as in the latter 
case, where they approach on the ascending side ; and so, 
also, these equal portions of weights, notwithstanding any 
change of distance between their several parts which may 
take place in one case and not in the other, would in both 
cases rise and fall, though the same perpendicular space, and 
consequently the equilibrium, would be equally preserved in 
both cases, though in the first case they may rise and fall 
through rather more than in the second. The application of 


this demonstration to the machine described in Fig. 1, is 
obvious ; for the compression of the sponge by the sinking of 
the weights on the ascending side, in pressing out the water, 
produces precisely the same effect as to the position and 
ascent of the weights, as the approach of the chain to the 
lower strap on the ascending side, in Fig. 2, by the com- 
j)ression of the springs ; and consequently, if the equilibrium 
is not affected in one case — that is, in Fig. 2, as above de- 
monstrated — it will not be affected in the o^er case. Fig. 1 ; 
and, therefore, the water would be squeezed out by the pres- 
sure of the chain without any loss of power. The quantity of 
weight necessary for squeezing dry any given quantity of 
sponge must be ascertained and duly apportioned by expe- 
riment. It is obvious, however, that whether one cubic inch 
of sponge required one, two, or four ounces for this purpose, 
it would not affect the equilibrium, since, whatever were the 
proportion on the ascending side, precisely the same would 
the proportion be on the descending side. 

This principle is capable of application in various ways, 
and with a variety of materials. It may be produced by a 
single roller or wheel. Mercury may also be substituted for 
water, by using a series of metallic plates instead of sponges ; 
and, as the mercur)* will be found to rise to a much greater 
height between these plates, than water will do in a sponge, 
it will be found that the power to be obtained by the latter 
materials will be from 70 to 80 times as great as by the use 
of water. Thus* a machine, of the same dimensions as given 
above, woidd have a constant power of 2000 lbs. acting 
upon it. 

We now proceed to shew how the principle of perpetual 
motion proposed by Sir Wm. Congreve may be applied upon 
one centre instead of three. 

In the following figure, abed represents a drum-wheel or 
cylinder, moving on a horizontal axis surrouiixied wi:h a band 
of si\>agt^ 1234567 8, and immer^d in water, so chat 
tho surtace of the water touches the lower eni c: the cylinder. 
Now then, if , as in Fig. 2, the w-iter or: :he desc^ndis^ side 
h he allowed to accumulate in. the sponge a: x, while, on the 
asvvnvUn^ side D, the spoiii?? at the water's e\i.^ shill. by 
any means not derinirini: the ev^uilibriuiLL. S? <o cc=:i»r^ss^ 
that it shall quit the water in a dry state, the iccusiiiilition 
of wnter aboTe ius level ac *, by the cakpilliry attrxcckcu will 



be a source of constant rotatory motion ; and, in the present 
case, it will be found that the means of compressing the 
sponge may be best obtained by buoyancy, instead of weight. 
For this purpose, therefore, the band of sponge is supposed 
to be divided into eight or more equal parts, 1 2 3 4, &c., 
each part being furnished with a float or buoyant vessel, 
/l,y2, &c., rising and falling upon spindles, s s s, &c., 
fixed in the periphery of the drum ; these floats being of such 
dimensions that, when immersed in water, the buoyancy or 
pressure upwards of each shall be sufiicient to compress that 
portion of the sponge connected with it, so as to squeeze out 
any water it may have absorbed. These floats are further 
arranged by means of levers III, &c., and plates p p p, &c., 
so that, when the float/ No. 1 becomes immersed in the 
water, its buoyant pressure upwards acts not against the 
portion of the sponge No. 1, immediately above it, but 
against No. 2, next in front of it ; and so, in like manner, 
the buoyancy of / No. 2 float acts on the portion of the 
sponge No. 3, and / No. 3 float upon No. 4 sponge. 

Now, from this arrangement it follows, that the portion of 
sponge No. 4, which is about to quit the water, is pressed 
upon by that float, which, from acting vertically, is most 
efficient in squeezing the sponge dry ; while that portion of 
the sponge No. 1, on the point of entering vhe water, ig not 


compressed at all from its corresponding float No. 8, not 
having yet reached the edge of the water. By these means, 
therefore, it will be seen that the sponge always rises in a 
dry state from the water on the ascending side, while it 
approaches the water on the descending side in an imcom- 
pressed state, and open to the full action of absorption by the 
capillary attraction. 

The great advantage of effecting this by the buoyancy of 
light vessels instead of a burthen of weights, as in Fig. 2, is 
that, by a due arrangement of the dimensions and buoyancy 
of the floats immersed, the whole machine may be made to 
float on the surface of the water, so as to take off all friction 
whatever from the centre of suspension. Thus, therefore, 
we have a cylindrical machine revolving on a single centre 
without friction, and having a collection of water in the 
sponge on the descending side, while the sponge on the 
ascending side is continually dry ; and if this cylinder be six 
feet wide, and the sponge that surrounds it one foot thick, 
there will be a constant moving power of thirty poimds on 
the descending side, without any friction to counteract it. 

It has been already stated, that to perpetuate the motion 
of this machine, the means used to leave the sponge open on 
the descending side, and press it dry on the ascending side, 
must be such as will not derange the equilibrium of the 
machine when floating in water. As, therefore, in this case 
the effect is produced by the ascent of the buoyant floats b, 
to demonstrate the perpetuity of the motion, we must show 
that the ascent of the floats / No. 1 and / No. 3 will 
be equal in all corresponding situations on each side of the 
perpendicular ; for the only circumstance that could derange 
the equilibrium on this system, would be that / No. 1 and 
/ No. 3 should not in all such corresponding situations 
approach the centre of motion equally ; for it is evident that 
in the position of the floats described in the above figure, 
ifyNo. 1 float did not approach the centre as much as/ 
No. 3, the equilibrium would be destroyed, and the greater 
distance of/ No. 1 from the centre than that of /No. 3 
would create a resistance to the moving force caused by the 
accumulation of the water at x. 

It will be fpund, however, that the floats / No. 1 and / 
No. 3 do retain equal distances from the centre in all corre- 
sponding situations, for the resistance to their approach to 


the centre by buoyancy is the elasticity of the sponge at the 
extremity of the respective levers ; and as this elasticity is the 
same in all situations, while this centripetal force of the float 
yNo. 1 is equal to that of the float J No. 3, at equal 
distances from the perpendicular, the floats/ No. 1 and/No. 3 
will, in all corresponding situations on either side of the 
perpendicular, be at equal distances from the centre. It is 
true, that the force by which these floats approach the centre 
of motion varies according to the obliquity of the spindles on 
which they work, it being greatest in the perpendicular 
position ; but, as the obliquity of these spindles is the same 
at all equal distances from the perpendicular, and as the 
resistance of the ascent of the floats is equal in all cases, the 
centre of buoyancy will evidently describe a similar curve on 
each side of the perpendicular ; and consequently the equi- 
librium will be preserved, so as to leave a constant moving 
force at x, equal to the whole accumulation of water in the 
sponge. Nor will this equilibrium be disturbed by any 
change of position in the floats not immersed in the water, 
since, being duly connected with the sponge by the levers 
and plates, they will evidently arrange themselves at equal 
distances from the centre, in all corresponding situations on 
either side. 

It may be said that the equilibrium of the band of sponge 
may be destroyed by its partial compression ; and it must be 
admitted that the centre of gravity of the part compressed, 
according to the construction above described, does approach 
the centre of motion nearer than the centre of gravity of the 
part not compressed. The whole weight of the sponge is, 
however, so inconsiderable, that this difference would scarcely 
produce any sensible effect ; and if it did, a very slight altera- 
tion in the construction, by which the sponge should be 
compressed as much outwards as inwards, would retain the 
centre of gravity of the compressed part at the same distance 
from the centre of motion as the centre of gravity of the part 
not compressed. 

Sib W. Congreve's Pla-n of Perpetual Motion 
(vol. 7, 1827).— The following is taken by the Editor from a 
small pamphlet on the subject, by the ingenious Baronet 
himself: — 

The power of a wheel thus set in motion may either be 

222 PERPETUUM mobile; 

applied in the common mode, by machinery at the end of the 
axis, or the wheel itself, as in the following figure, may be 

made to revolve in a circular 
cistern of water, of any con- 
venient diameter, being con- 
nected by an arm from the 
centre of the wheel to an up- 
right revolving shaft in the 
centre of the cistern, so as to 
be coimected with machinery. 

[He proceeds to enlarge on the merits of the invention, 
gives a scheme for propelling boats, and descants on capillary 
attraction when glass plates are used, and proposes the use of 
them with water, and of copper or platina plates with mercury, 
concluding : — ] 

My principal object in publishing this little tract is, if 
possible, to call the attention of men of mathematical attain- 
ments to a subject which, from the general disbelief of the 
possibility of the thing, such men will scarcely condescend to 
look at. Feeling, however, that the application of a new 
principle is here involved, which is not liable to the general 
objections urged against perpetual motion, I have bestowed 
the most patient atteiTition to the subject, and must confess I 
cannot myself discover any fallacy in the proposition here 

William Coxgreve. 

March 10, 1827. 

P.S. — Since writing the above, I have had a conversation 
with one of our most celebrated mathematicians on this 
subject. He contends that the weights ascending on the 
sloping side of an inclined plane can exert no pressure so as 
to produce any effect on that plane, without a corresponding 
loss of power and destruction of the equilibrium. He seems to 
forget that the very principle of this equilibrium is, that the 
inclined plane itself, at — degrees above the horizon, sup- 
ports one half the weight, and is, of course, reacted upon to 
an equal extent by that weight ; so that if the weight were 
100 lbs., 50 lbs. of this would be absolutely disposable to the 
compression of any substance between itself and the plane, 


sucli as the sponge above-mentioned, the other 60 lbs. being 
the only part supported by the counterpoise on the perpen- 
dicular side. 

Now, will he contend that if a carpet or sponge were 
stretched round this inclined plane, and fixed to it so as to 
be allowed to absorb water on both sides by the capillary 
attraction, will he, I say, contend that there would not, in 
this case, be 50 lbs. disposable on the side A C for squeezing 
the water out of this sponge or carpet, by its pressure on the 
slope, without affecting the equilibrium, while there would 
be no weight pressing upon it to operate with this effect on 
the perpendicular side ? 

SiK Wm. Congkeve's Perpetual Motion (vol. 7, 
1827) :— 

[The editor, alluding to Sir William's " Plan of Perpetual 
Motion from Capillary Attraction," states that the Baronet 
has since published a revised and enlarged edition of that 
pamphlet (Knight and Lacey, pp. 24, price Is.), in which he 
endeavours to refute the principal objection which he has 
heard made to his plan by a celebrated mathematician, who 
opposed to Sir William Congreve's proposition ^ general 
maxim, said to exist in all mechanical operations, viz., " that 
no duty (to use his own terms) can be performed without a 
corresponding loss of efficiency." He concluded that " the 
weight ascending on an inclined plane can produce no posi- 
tive effect, such as the compression of a spring or sponge, by 
which the centre of gravity of the weight shall describe a 
curve instead of a straight line, without an equivalent loss of 
efficiency." The propounder of this objection defied Sir 
William to produce an instance to the contrary, and agreed 
to leave the decision of the main question to this issue. Sir 
William therefore offers the following as a proof that power 
may be gained by his plan without any corresponding loss in 
point of efficiency : — ] 

Let A C be an inclined plane. Now, suppose a small car- 
riage W on four wheels, at the bottom of this inclined plane, 



be connected by a line / / over a roller, witb a counterpoise 
P hanging perpendicularly, so that P would have just power 
enough to move the carriage W slowly up the plane AC; 

suppose, also, that this carriage be loaded with a yielding 
substance, such as sponge, filling the space an, and having 
a layer of some heavy substance, such as lead x «, laid upon 
the top of it, so as to be capable of gradually compressing the 
sponge ; and, lastly, let us suppose that, things being thus 
arranged, the carriage moves slowly up the plane W to tc by 
the action of the coimterpoise ; and that while this is taking 
place, the leaden weight x x has gradually compressed the 
sponge in« the carriage into a smaller compass z z ; in doing 
which, it is evident that the centre of gravity will describe a 
curve instead of a straight line. Now then, I will ask 
whether, under these circumstances, this change of position 
in the load of the little waggon will make the waggon and 
its contents weigh more at w than at W, so as to render the 
counterpoise P, in this last situation, less efficient in drawing 
the carriage up the plane ? 

To say there would be any increase of weight thus created 
in the carriage W, and any consequent loss of efficiency in 
the counterpoise, would indeed be most absurd ; for, on the 
contrary, it is evident that if the sponge were wet, this sink- 
ing of the lead would produce a decrease of weight in the 
waggon, and, consequently, an increase of power in the 
counterpoise equivalent to the weight of water squeezed out. 

My friend, therefore, must admit that I have fairly met his 
issue, and have shown that the sponge may actually be com- 
pressed by the sinking of the lead on the ascending side 


without any increase of weight or loss of power, as he con- 
tends ; and, consequently, that the load constantly accumu- 
lated by the capillary attraction on the descending side, must 
be a clear gain of power adequate to produce a perpetual 
motion, whether the application of this principle be by a 
series of small detached parcels, as in Fig. 3, or by a con- 
tinued band of sponge and endless chain of weights, as in 
Fig. 1, which is, in effect, the same thing. 

I do not mean to say that my friend's general objection 
does not hold good where only one power, such as gravity, 
is employed ; for certainly, in that case, if the sponge 
were alternately to act as weight and power, the loss of 
any weight of water squeezed out on the ascending side 
would be felt on the descending side when the gravity of 
the sponge was called upon to act as a counterpoise. But 
the objection will not apply when two distinct powers, gravity 
and capillary attraction, are combined, as in the problem 
before us ; for in this case, at the moment when the ineffi- 
ciency of the mere gravity of the sponge is felt, its capillary 
attraction acts spontaneously, and restores the load of water 
on the descending side, which is necessary to give it due 
efficiency, as coimterpoise, to sustain the motion. 

It is evident, therefore, that in applying his general maxim 
to my proposition, he extends it beyond the just sphere of 
its applicability ; and it is thus that we frequently deceive 
ourselves by the too great extension of general and meta- 
physical dogmas. It is thus, I am convinced, that the dis- 
covery of the very important problem now before us has been 
so long retarded, by the general persuasion of its impracti- 
cability, which has, during a period of unexampled progress 
in mechanical science, absolutely deterred men of mathema- 
tical acquirements from bestowing a moment's consideration 
upon this now dishonoured problem. 

[This concludes the chief extracts. The editor goes on to 

Sir William gives a more detailed representation on the 
same principle as the figure just inserted, for which the 
reader is referred to the pamphlet itself. He concludes with 
expressing his perfect conviction that he has proved " the 
existence of a very considerable moving force, being the 
150th part of the whole weight to be set in motion." " A 

3*26 PERPETuuM mobile; 

power, the sufficiency of which to keep water in motion in a 
variety of ways, with a considerable excess to spare, will not 
(he saysy be doubted, when it is remembered that many of 
the largest scale beams, with a ton in each scale, may be 
moved by much less than an ounce weight." " For my own 
part ^he says), not being able to see any reason why the 
machine should not act, I confess that my faith is sufficiently 
strong to have induced me to take out a patent, and I am 
determined to use my best exertions to give mankind the 
benefit of this discovery, should it turn out, as I sincerely 
believe it will, a source of perpetual power without expense." 

Amebican Review of an Account of a New Scheme 
of Perpetual Motion, invented by Sir William Congreve, 
Bart. From the " Franklin Journal." Philadelphia, vol. 4, 
1827. — In noticing this work, the reviewer makes the follow- 
ing introductory observations : — 

Sir William Congreve is a member of the British Parlia- 
ment, and claims to be a man of science, and an engineer. 
He is the inventor of the rockets which bear his name. He 
was also the contriver of a clock, which was intended to look 
like a perpetual motion. It kept a ball in motion, which 
served only to injure the going of the clock.* 

[After making extracts, which the foregoing articles antici- 
pate, together with remarks thereon, the writer concludes : — ] 

The proposition of the Baronet includes the idea of a 
perpetual motion, as this term is restricted by those who 
have written upon the subject. This has been defined to be 
— a motion which is supplied and renewed from itself, 
without the intervention of any external cause. The impos- 
sibility of constructing such a machine has been repeatedly 
demonstrated ; as to eff*ect it would require us to discover a 
body which, in one position, possesses less gravitating force 
than in another ; or, in other words, which is both heavier 
and lighter than itself. f 

* A clock of this description is exhibited at the Museum in the Rotunda 
of the Arsenal, Wrolwich. 

f This article does not appear in the *' Mechanics' Magazine.'* 



23. A Pendulum Motion. — ^A correspondent (vol. 7, 
1827) describes the following arrangement : — 

A B E F is a frame connected by C D — a cross bar, 
through which runs g^ a pendulum hung on a pivot C. This 
pendulum has two arms, one a measuring five feet, and the 
other h one foot in length, connected so together to form a 
lever with a long and short arm, whose fulcrum is c. This 
pendulum has a weight of two pounds at its end. K K are 
two short levers, having a joint in them to allow the pendu- 
lum to pass them one way, but not the other, without moving 
them, whose fulcra are d d, by which they are connected with 
A B. From these run cords / / over mm mm pulleys, which 
cords are connected (for the purpose of drawing them up 
ink) catches) with h A, springs throwing with a power of 


three pounds. 1 1 are catches for the springs when brought 
back after working their power, moving upwards. N is the 
point where the pendulum g will escape from the lever K. 

There are various springs, stops, &c., necessary to keep the 
parts in their proper positions, which are not shown, not being 
essential to the consideration of the question. Now, assutning 
the pendulum to be brought into the position shown in the 
drawing, and the spring to be let loose against it, the pendulum 
would begin to move with a power equal to five pounds, which 
I assume would be sufiicient to throw it up to a higher situa- 
tion, on the opposite side, than that from which it set out ; but 
in its progress its short arm comes in contact with K, to which 
is attached one spring A, which is drawn up into the catch by 
such motion of the pendulum. This resistance is equal to 
three pounds, and something more ; but, because the arm of 
the lever to which the power is applied is five times longer 
than the short arm at which it meets with the resistance, it 
requires but at most one pound to overcome it ; by which one 
pound of the five pounds being lost, there will remain four 
pounds, or two pounds above the weight at the end of the pen- 
dulum, to raise it to as high a situation as that from which it 
set out, and which I assume will be sufiicient for such purpose. 
Being raised to such a situation, it will release the spring H on 
the opposite side, by striking up the catch ; and will perform a 
similar motion, and be attended with similar results, as the 

Another correspondent makes the following remarks on 
the proposed Pendulum Motion : — 

The resistance opposed by the catch I C (on the right-hand 
side of the plate) to any impulse, is something more than 3 lbs., 
this resistance being occasioned by the force of the spring, 
equal to 3 lbs., the weight of the catch, and its friction on its 

The impulse is here erroneously imagined to be 4 lbs. : 
on the contrary, it is not quite 3 lbs. Supposing the pendulum 
to fall from the situation represented in the figure, it would 
rise to an equal height on the opposite side if all obstacles were 
removed. But though it starts with a momentum equal to 



2 lbs., yet that is continually diminishing in consequence of 
friction and the resistance of the air. The end h coming in 
contact with K, something more than 1 lb. is lost, and the 
pendulum continues its motion until, the momentum being 
destroyed, it is stationary for a moment of time, and then 
returns. Let the point where it is stationary be called n, and 
let the pendulum again start from the situation in the figure, 
with the additional momentum of 3 lbs. from the spring. This 

3 lbs. is undiminished until the pendulum arrives at n; it is 
then called into action, and gradually diminishes from the ob- 
vious causes above stated— friction and the resistance of the 
air. Hence the momentum with which the pendulum strikes 
the catch is something less than 3 lbs., to overcome a resistance 
something more than 3 lbs. 

24. PerpetitjLL Motion by Magnetism (vol. 9, 1828). 
—The inventor says : — 

The object of the present communication is to lay before 
your readers an attempt at perpetual motion by means of mag- 
netism, applied somewhat differently to any that has yet been 
published in your Magazine. 

The above is a wheel of light construction, moving on fnc- 
tion wheels in vacuo ; the rim is furnished with dips of steel, 

330 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

— pieces of watch-spring will do. N N are two magnets, 
which, attracting the rim of the wheel, will render one side 
lighter and the other heavier, causing it to revolve ad infinitum : 
or, to render it more powerful, let the steel rims be magnetized, 
and fixed on the wheel with their north poles towards its centre. 
Let two more magnets be added, as shown by the dotted lines : 
let these two, S S, be placed with their south poles nearest the 
rim of the wheel ; and the other two, N N, with their north 
poles in that position. Now, as similar poles repel and oppo- 
site poles attract, the wheel will be driven round by attraction 
and repulsion acting conjointly on four points of its circum- 
ference. B B are blocks of wood, to keep off the attraction 
of the magnets from that part of the wheel which has passed 

25. Cox's Pbbpetual Motion (vol. 10, 1828) : — 

As one of your correspondents mentions my having in my 
possession an engraving and description of the perpetual 
motion clock which occupied a prominent place in Cox's 
Museimi, some fifty or sixty years ago, I beg leave to enclose 
the same. — I am, Sir, yours, &c., W. P. 

Chatteris, Cambridgeshire. 

Descbiption of the Engbaving. — ^On the back of the 
engraving, we are first presented with what appears to have 
been an extract from a descriptive inventory of Cox's Museum, 
written in a very showman-like style, and conveying but little 
real information with respect to the construction of the piece of 
mechanism pretended to be described. It is in the following 
terms : — 

" The Perpetual Motion is a mechanical and philosophical 
time-piece, which, after great labour, numberless trials, un- 
wearied attention, and immense expense, is at length brought to 
perfection. From this piece, by an union of the mechanic and 
philosophic principles, a motion is obtained that will continue 
for ever ; and although the metals of steel and brass, of which 
it is constructed, must in time decay (a fate to which even *the 
great globe itself, yea, all that it inherit,' are exposed), still 
the primary cause of its motion being constant, and the friction 
upon every part extremely insignificant, it will continue its 



action for a longer duration than any mechanical performance 
has ever before done. 

*' This extraordinary piece is something above the height, 
and about the dimensions, of a common eight-day pendulum 

clock ; the case is of mahogany, in the architectural style, with 
columns and pilasters, cornices and mouldings, of brass, finely 
wrought, richly gilt, and improved with the most elegantly 
adapted ornaments. It is glazed on every side ; whereby its 

332 PERPETUFM mobile; 

construction, the mode of its performance, and the masterly 
execution of the workmanship, may be discovered by the in- 
telligent spectator. The time-piece is affixed to the part from 
whence the power is derived; it goes upon diamonds ; or, to 
speak more technically, is jewelled in every part where its 
friction could be lessened; nor will it require any other assist- 
ance than the common regulation necessary for any other time- 
keeper, to make ic perform with the utmost exactness. Besides 
the hour and minute, there is a second hand, always in motion; 
and to prevent the least idea of deception, as well as to keep 
out the dust, the whole is enclosed within frames of glass. 

"N.B. — The very existence of motion in the time-piece is 
originated, continued, and perfected, from the philosophical 
principle by which alone it acts." 

Following this, there is an address " To the Public," from 
another pen (apparently), which seems to ha7e been intended to 
throw some light on ^Mhe philosophical principle'' so mys- 
teriously iipoken of by Mr. Cox ; but leaves it in as much 
obscurity as before. The following is the only part of it that 
need be quoted : — 

" The constant revolution of wheels, moving in vertical, 
horizontal, and other directions, is not only physically produced, 
but the indication of time from an union of the philosophic with 
the mechanic principles is effected. Upon the dial, besides a 
minute and an hour hand, is another hand, dividing the minute 
into sixty equal parts. These hands are motionless till affixed 
to the primary motion ; so that the motion of the time-piece (as 
Mr. Cox expresses it) is originated, continued, and perfected, 
by the philosophic principle through which it is solely actuated." 

The secret is, however, at last divulged, in the subjoined 
certificate from the celebrated philosopher, James Ferguson :-^ 

'* I have seen and examined the above-described clock, which 
is kept constantly going by the rising and falling of the quick- 
silver in a most extraordinary barometer; and there is no 
danger of its ever failing to go; for there is always such a 
quantity of moving power accumulated, as would keep the 
clock going for a year, even if the barometer should be taken 
quite away from it. And indeed, on examining the whole 
contrivance and construction, I must with truth say that it is 
the most ingenious piece of mechanism I ever saw in my life. — 
James Ferguson, Bolt- court, Fleet-street, Jan. 28, 1774." 


Cox's Perpetual Motion (vol. 11, 1829).— The fol- 
lowing is given as a description of the internal mechanism 
of the perpetual motion clock ; collected " from a very large 
engraving," inscribed '"to the King's most Excellent Majesty,' 
by Mr. James Cox ; and a letter-press description written by 
the philosopher, James Ferguson, published some years since 
(but without a date) :" — 

This clock was kept in constant motion by the rise and 
fall of a considerable weight of quicksilver. The manner in 
which this motion was made subservient to the purpose of 
dividing time will, I hope, be rendered intelligible by refer- 
ence to the accompanying drawings. 

Fig. 1 is a front view of the machine. A a and B h are 
two strong pieces of metal, curved on the under side, like the 
foot of a rocking cradle, to which their motion on the sup- 
porting plate C C is similar; they are therefore distinguished 
by the name of cradles. To the end of the cradle A is hung a 
rod D G?, and to the opposite end of the other cradle h is hung 
the other rod E e. By the lower end of these two rods (which 
are of equal length), at d and *, the frame F F F F hangs, 
with the gimbol/and its upright bar G. To the middle of the 
lower part of this frame is hung the large glass ball or bulb of 
a barometer H ; the tube of which, I, goes down into the 
quicksilver in the glass cistern K. This cistern is supported 
by two rods L L, whose ends hang from the contrary ends of 
the cradles A a and B 5; the right-hand rod from the end a of 
the cradle A a, and the left-hand rod from the end B of the 
cradle B 5. A very small degree of attention to this con- 
nexion will show that if the bulb H be pulled down it must 
draw up the cistern K, and if the cistern be pulled down it 
will draw up the bulb; for, as either end of the cradle goes 
down, the other end must rise. The cistern being open at 
top, the atmosphere exerts a varying pressure on the surface of 
the quicksilver; and when heavy, forces the greater part of it 
up the tube I into the bulb H: this makes the bulb heavy and 
the cistern light; the bulb, therefore, descends, and draws up 
the cistern. On the contrary, when the air becomes light, its 
pressure is so much the less on the surface of the quicksilver in 
the cistern; and being then unable lo support the lengthened 
column of quicksilver in the bulb, part of it descends into the 


PEBFETWM mobile; 

cistern, which, becoming thus heavier than the bulb, descends 
and draws it up. And thus, when the air is heavy the bulb 
descends, and ascends when the air is light, through more than 
double the space that the mercury rises and falls in a common 
barometer. The frame F F F F and its upright G being con- 

{Fig, 2.) 

nected with the bulb, rise and fall with it. To this upright 
bar G is attached the wind-up frame M, — which is shown on a 
larger scale in Fig. 2. In this frame are two thin metal plates 


m and n, toothed like the blades of saws, one set of teeth m 
pointing downwards, and the other set n pointing upwards. 
When the frame falls, the teeth of the saw m, by means of a 
sliding movement, engage the teeth of the wheel N, and turn it 
round in the direction shown by the arrow ; when the frame 
rises, the saw m is disengaged by the sliding movement, and 
the saw n is brought into connexion with the wheel N, which 
it turns round in the same direction as before; so that whether 
the frame ascends or descends^ it is eoniinually turning the 
wheel N in the same direction. This frame moves between 
four friction wheels, which retain it in an upright position. O 
is a catch which falls into the teeth of the wheel, to keep it 
from being turned in the contrary direction, by any accident, 
during the short intervals of time between one of the saws 
leaving the wheel and the other taking into it. On the back of 
the wheel N is a pulley^ with sharp-pointed pins fixed in the 
bottom of its groove, for laying hold of the endless chain 1, 2. 
Above this is just such another pulley> over which the chain 
also goes, 3, 4. This last pulley is fixed on the axis to the 
great wheel (R, Fig. 1) of the clock movement, by which the 
whole of the clock-work is put in motion. 

Returning to Fig. 1 : — The endless chain just described 
passes over the four upper pulleys U U U U, which are fixed, 
and under the two lower ones S and S, which rise and fall 
with the heavy weight T on one side, and the lighter counter- 
poise t on the other side, which hang from the pulley frames. 
The weights consisted of two boxes made of thin brass plate ; 
but T was filled with lead, while t w^as quite empty The 
weight T acts with half its force of gravity upon the part 6, 6, 
of the endless chain, and with the other half upon the part 7, 8. 
By pulling the former part, it turns round the great wheel R 
as fast as the motion of the balance of the clock will permit 
that wheel to move. It will be seen that if this motion 
continued for a short time, the weight T would go dovyn to the 
bottom, and then the clock would stop. But the train of the 
movement is such, that the weight would keep the clock going 
a whole year, before it would descend quite to the bottom of 
the machine. By the above-mentioned contrivance of the wind- 
up frame M, which, as it moves up and down, turns the wheel 
N round (in a direction contrary to that in which the pulley 
and wheel R is moving), and draws up the chain in the direc- 

PERPETUUM mobile; 

tioQ 7i 8, while the weight T is pulling down the part 5, 6, the 
weight is prevented from ever going down to the bottom, and 
a perpetual motion is produced in the clock, by the alternating 
pressure of the atmosphere on the barometer H I K. The 
weight of quicksilver employed was about one hundred and fifty 

The only inconvenience that Mr. Cox found in all this 
machinery was, that the changes of the air affected the baro- 
meter so much as to draw up the vreight through more space 
than the clock movement would allow it to descend ; which 
tended to overwind the clock and break the chain. To 
remedy this. Mr. Cox made the wind-up wheel to turn loose on 
the arbor, whenever a click was discharged from its ratchet 
wheel. And although the action of the wind-up frame, &c., 
would continue, they would have no effect upon the chain 
pulley and arbor, which would remrjn at rest till such time as 
the weight T had again descended, and permitted the click to 
regain its hold of the ratchet wheel. I may observe, that the 
discharge of the click, in the first place, was effected by the 
rising of the weight T ; for when the top x of the pulley frame 
S reached the rod X, it raised it, and, by means of the levers, 
disengaged the click. To counterbalance the weight of the 
wind-up frame M, one end of a short chain is fixed to the back 
of it ; and after the chain is put over the pulley Y, at the top of 
the machine, a weight is hung on the end of the chain. It 
may be observed that as the weight T has four feet to descend 
from the top to the bottom, its power upon the time-piece must 
be as much lighter when at top, or heavier when at bottom, as 
double the difference of the weight of so much chain ; which 
would cause an irregularity in the e:oing of the clock, as it has 
a balance and not a long pendulum. To avoid this incon- 
venience, the weight T was made to wind up a smaller weight 
every twelve hours, by means of a remontoir ; and this smaller 
weight acting upon the time-piece, kept it in motion. As it is 
the perpetual motion part which I wished to explain, I have 
omitted the clock movements, which are of the common descrip- 
tion — the balance spoken of consisting of a lever, supported 
by an axis in its centre, and loaded at each end with a weight. 
— W. B. 



26. Perpetual Motion by Magnetism (vol. 10, 1828). — 
Alluding to a former scheme of his for applying magnetism, 
the inventor submits the following : — 

Let A A, in the prefixed engraving, represent two magnets 
revolving on axes. Let B represent a larger magnet, hanging 
on an axis, pendulum fashion, between the two former. As 
the poles of the two smaller magnets lie in the same direction, 
the eiSect will be to draw the larger magnet towards that on 
the left hand, while it is at the same lime repelled by that on 
the right ; but while this is going on, the upper end of the 
large magnet raises, by means of a guide wire, the tumbler D, 
which, just before the magnets come in contact, passes the per- 
pendicular, and falls over, carrying with it the lever connected 
with the two wheels C C, and causing them to perform a quarter 
revolution ; these wheels are connected by lines with two small 




wheels fixed on the axles of the two ma^rnets A A. While 
the former make a quarter revelation, the latter tnni half 
round ; consequently, the position of the ma^ets is reversed, 
and the same motions are then performed by the pendufilrii 
magnet being attracted and repel Id in the opposite direction ; 
and jnst before the magnets touch each other, the arrangemeol 
is again instantly reveraed. 

27. A PEBPETiTALLT-Fi.ownro Stphojt (voL 10, 1828) is 
described by reference to the annexed sectional figoie : — 



a is a circular glass vessel, 1 foot 6 inches diameter ; h by 
a tube fixed thereunto : c c are funnels containing valves ; 
dy a float of hollow copper, or any light substance ; c, an open 
mouth ; /, an open vessel filled with mercury as high as the 
dotted line. 

It is well known that several experiments were made by 
M. Venturi, Sir Isaac Newton, &c., demonstrating that a 
vessel shaped thus — 


will emit water- with a much greater rapidity than a vessel 
shaped thus — 

say, with more than a third as much more speed. I propose, 
then, to have the mouth of the vessel a of the former shape, 
being the natural form of flowing water. The vessel a, and 
tube hy must be completely filled with mercury, by means of the 
funnels c c, which will also contain mercury. In order to set 
the fluid in motion, the valve in the large vessel c is to be 
raised ; the mercury (which was hitherto held up by a greater 
weight of atmosphere) will instantly run out of the mouth ^, 
and must be suffered to do so till the mercury in c is level 
with the dotted line : by this time the mercury in a will have 
obtained a momentum * which will be more than equivalent 

• ** Water not only gravitates with the vessel that contains it, but inde- 
pendently of it; and thus, if the containing vessel is supposed stationary, 
and a hole is bored in its bottom, the contained water will flow out and 
descend through tbe air for the purpose of obtaining a lower situation than 
it before occupied ; and in so flowing out, those particles of fluid which 
were over, or in immediate contact with, the hole, will be discharged first,** 
&c. — " Library of Useful Knowledge." 


PBRPETUUM mobile; 

to the pressure of the atmosphere ; consequently, the mercury 
will run out of the large vessel a, till it falls as low as the 
dotted line ; the float d, resting on the mercury, of course 
falls with it, opens the valve, and admits a proportionable 
quantity of mercury through the tube 5, driven by the pressure 
of the atmosphere (the height from the mercury in/, to the 
top of the tube b, being only 26 inches ; which is 2 inches 
less than what the atmosphere will at all times raise mercury 
in a vacuum). 

By this means will there not be a continual circulation of 
mercury ? 

28. New Mechanical Motion (vol. 11, 1829). — A corre- 
spondent says : — 

To the curious who delight in mechanical intricacies, to 
whom ingenuity of contrivance is the goal for which they 
run, nothing seems to afford and require such endless resources 
as that most puzzling thing — perpetual motion. The unfor- 
tunate name " perpetual motion," if changed for "mechanical 
experiment," would eventually, perhaps, remove the real 
cause of censuring it, by the different idea of the object 
aimed at. 

I now beg leave to offer some account of a combination of 
movements, which, from its originality, and seeming to 


possess every requisite for retaining it in action, may possibly 
be acceptable. • 

This diagram shows a side view. On the stand A are 
raised two supports B, each having a centre hole at a, to 
receive the axle of the balanced apparatus, consisting of C, 
a glass tube containing a portion of mercury G ; and D, a 
grooved scaleboard, in which a ball, E, can roll backwards 
and forwards. F F are two jointed levers, which are to 
serve, when struck by the ball, to reverse the position of the 
compound balance : the whole centred at a, the tube at h, 
and the grooved board at c. In its present position, the 
mercury (it is supposed), having flowed to the end C, will 
depress D, and cause the ball E to roll to D, and depress the 
end G F D ; and so on continually. 

29. Self-moving Railway Cabbiage (vol. 12, 1829). 
— ^A correspondent writes : — 

In treating of perpetual motion—-" that grand secret for 
the tiiscovery of which those dictators of phSlosophy, Demo- 
critus, Pythagoras, Plato, did travel unto the Gymnosophists 
and Indian priests " — ^it would add considerable interest to 
give some account of its early history. Regarding the falli- 
bility of every contrivance hitherto planned or experimented 
upon, we may gather sufficient from the writings of Bishop 
Wilkins alon6. The " little world " of Paracelsus and his 
followers — ^the planetarium invented by Cornelius Dreble, for 
Kin^. James — the " magnetical globe or Terella," suggested 
by Pet. Peregrinus, with the vheel that he, Taisner, and 
Cardan thought might be kept in motion by " pieces of steel 
and loadstones" — are, like the Bishop's own wheel and 
plummets, and his application of Archimedes* screw, inade- 
quate to the grand end for which they were designed. 

Without enlarging on this head, we shall proceed with the 
description of a machine which, were it possible to make its 
parts hold together unimpaired by rotation or the ravages of 
time, and to give it a path encircling the earth, would 
assuredly continue to roll along in one imdeviating course 
till time shall be no more. 

A series of inclined planes are to be erected in such a 
manner that a cone will ascend one (its sides forming an acute 



angle), and, being raised to the summit, descend on the 
next (ha^'ing •parallel sides), at the foot of which it must 
rise on a third and fall on a fourth, and so continue to do 
alternately throughout. 

The diagram is the section of a carriage A, with broad 
conical wheels a a, resting on the inclined plane b. The 
entrance to the carriage is from above, and there are ample 
accommodations for goods and passengers. The most singular 
property of this contrivance is, that its speed increases the 
more it is laden ; and when checked on any part of the road, 
it will, when the cause of stoppage is removed, proceed on 
its journey by mere power of gravity. Its path may be a 
circular road formed of the inclined planes. But to avoid a 
circuitous route, a double road ought to be made. The 
carriage not having a retrograde motion on the inclined 
planes, a road to set out upon, and another to return by, are 

I am indebted to a much-respected friend for. the hint of 
this means of effecting a veritable perpetual motion. 

30. An Exercise eor Perpetual Motion Seekebs 
(vol. 13, 1830).— The inventor says :— 

Let us suppose an apparatus to be constructed of the 
description represented in the annexed engraving: a is a 



wat6r cistern, whence water is to be rjdsed by the pump b^ 
to supply the cistern ; c d is a small pipe with a stop-cock at 
e, which lets the water from cistern o into a strong water- 
tight bellows /. The bellows have no valve, but a cock g to 
let out the water into cistern a; A is a weight, and i a rack 
on the top of the bellows which works in the cogs on the axle 
of the large cog-wheel y,* j turns the little cog-wheel k, that 
gives motion to the ^rm /, and works the pump-handle m / 

n is an upright rod on the end of the lever o, which rod has 
a turn at p and q for the top of the bellows to press against 
in ascending and descending. The water being let into the 
bellows from the pipe c?, will cause the top of the bellows, 

FERPETinrM mobile; 

with the weight and rack, to ascend till the former reacheff 
and presses /?, which will move the lever o and the arm or 
rod r ; by which means the stop-cock e of the pipe will be 
shut, and the cock g opened, and the water let in from the 
bellows into the cistern a. The top of the bellows will now 
descend till it comes down and presses the turn 9, which will 
again shut the cock g and open «, on which the water will 
afjain flow from the pipe into the bellows, and cause the top 
with the rack to ascend. 

Now it is generally known that the power of an hydrostatic 
bellows is thus calculated : — 

As the area of the orifice or section of the pipe, 

To the area of the bellows : 

The weight of water in the pipe is. 

To the weight the bellows will sustain on the top-board. 

We will suppose, therefore, the pipe d to be 10 feet high^ 
with a bore equal to 1 square inch, which wo'.dd give 120 
cubic inches, and about 4i lbs. of water. Let us suppose, 
also, the boards of the bellows to be 20 inches square, which 
gives 400 square inches. When the water is let from the 
pipe into the bellows, there will be a pressure of 4^ lbs. on 
every square inch, which on the whole will amount to 1700 
lbs. Now take half of this force and place it on the top of 
the bellows ; there will then be a working power of 8'60 lbs. 
up and down, and allowing the bellows to raise one foot, it 
will contain about 20 gallons of water. Now the question is, 
-will not the machinery, with a moving power of 2 feet and 
850 lbs., raise 20 gallons of water 10 feet, which would, of 
course, cause the motion to be perpetual ? — John Sims» 

Pwllheli, North Wales, Dec. II, 1829. 

Remarks on foregoing Scheme (vol. 13, 1830). — ^A 
correspondent says : — 

Had Mr. Sims gained the power exerted by the descending 
weight on his bellows, he would have been fortunate indeed ; 
but it unfortunately happens that its returning power (or an 
equivalent) was expended in raising it. 

With respect to his question, whether a circulation of 
water wculd be kept up by the arrangement, I answer, no ; 


as the velocities will be in the inverse ratios to the forces, 
and the descending column of 120 inches must expend itself 
forty times to raise the ascending one to the height of twelve 
inches, as proposed : — 

10 ft. or 120 in. X by 40 = 4800, lifting force or power. 
400 in. X 12 :rt 4800, opposing force, resistance, or weight. 

Here is an equilibrium, and nothing gained to overcome 
friction or the weight of the atmosphere on the piston of the 
pump. Were it possible to annihilate both friction and at- 
mospheric Weight, even then, unless the power exceed the 
weight, the power would not be a moving one. 

31. The Marquis op Worcester's Scheme op Per- 
petual Motion (vol. 13, 1830). — ^A correspondent, alluding 
to the construction of the Marquis of Worcester's invention, 
No. 56, says :-^ 

The pretensions of the Marquis in his description of this 
wonderful piece of ingenuity may be very simply eflfected; 
that is, they may fall out to the distance of 1 foot in passing 
the vertex of a wheel of 7 feet radius, or, as he has it, 14 
feet over ; and, on the contrary, they would fall in passing 
the vertical diameter at the bottom, or, as he has it, on the 
lower side move a foot nearer. I shall give what I consider 
to come as near to the Marquis's plan as the words of his 
description can suggest to one who has travelled much 
farther than him in this mazy road. I have no doubt but the 
following drawing exhibits the principle of the Marquis's 
wheel. It will be observed that he particularly mentions the 
weights shifting their position in passing the diameter line 
of the upper and lower sides, meaning, as I have taken it, 
the vertical diameter (though the shifting may be made to take 
place in any part of the circumference on the opposite sides) ; 
but this circumstance most probably induced him to overlook 
that, though the horizontal distance was greater in the upper 
descending quadrant than in the lower ascending one, or 
opposite end of the respective diameters, still the reverse 
takes place in the remaining half of the wheel, and when 



each weight has taken its new position at the shifting point, 
equilibrium is preserved. 

I beg leave to add that it is not by such crude notions as 
this, or any other I have seen published as expositions in 
support of the prejudices entertained against this subject, 
that the question can be decided ; I believe there are prin- 
ciples, could they be brought into action, which would effect 
the desired purpose, and the difficulty is mostly in the prac- 
tical application. 

Explanation op the Engeaving. — ^The diameter of 
the Marquis's wheel is 14 feet, and its circumference 44, very 
nearly, which, divided into 40 portions of 1 foot each, for the 
weights to move in, leaves 4 feet, or 48 inches, for the 
intervals of space to stay the weights, and allows of iron pins 
of about 1^ in. in diameter, as represented ; the rest of the 
figure needs little explanation. The mode of attaching the 
weights may vary ; but as the Marquis's words are, " they 
himg," I have represented them as so doing in the grooves 
of the wheel on a pulley, running on the two rims of iron 
composing the circumference thereof; and if the weights are 
divided in two parts, one half being on each side the wheel, 
the lateral pressure thereon will be prevented. The only 
motion that would take place on this plan would be a vibra- 



tion to the extent of about 10 degrees of a circle, on the 
wheel being slightly agitated either by design or accident, 
unless a moTing force were applied in either direction 
sufficient to cause it to revolve on its axis. It is probable 
the Marquis designed that the space the Weights moved 
through should be chords of the arc, or a direct line, and not 
portions of the circumference ; still this alters not the case. 

32. Pebpetttal Wateb- wheels and Pumps (tol. 14, 
1831). — ^A correspondent gives a description of a plan 
which he says he believes to be entirely original, and not 
without considerable claims to plausibility, thus :-^ 

Let a h c d represent a wooden cistern, or trough, half 
filled with water ; E F G, three overshot water-wheels, sup- 
ported by the upright piece; H K is another cistern, or 


trough, filled with water up to the dotted lines; P is a 
syphon to convey water from the lower to the upper cistern 
K ; R is a beam supported from the cistern ; S T U are 
moveable cranks attached to the horizontal shafts through 
the centre of the water-wheels, — each crank has a connecting- 
rod to the beam R ; V W are two curved spouts to convey 
water from one wheel to another. It may be well here to 
premise that each water-wheel has a pump and beam, as only 
one is seen in the section. 

Now, in order to put the machine in motion, it is only 
necessary to draw a portion of water from the syphon over 
the wheel E, which immediately revolves, consequently the 
pump L M draws water from the lower to the upiper cistern 
K. Now, the water passing over the wheel £, is collected 
bjr means of the curved spout V, and is conveyed upon the 
Iniddle wheel F, which also gives motion to another pump, 
and draws water in 'like manner. Again, the water passing 
Over the middle wheel, is collected as before by another 
curved spout W ; consequently, the lower wheel is put in 
action, accompanied with another pump. Hence it is obvious 
that three water-wheels and three pumps are worked by one 
stream of water from the syphon. What more is required to 
perpetuate its motion ? 

John Linlet. 

Wicker Sheffield, May 28, 1830. 

33. Wheel and Weights. — ^A correspondent (vol. 14, 
i831) writes :— 

The description of the design for a perpetual motion in- 
vented by the Marquis of Worcester, described in one of the 
recent numbers of your Magazine, has recalled to my mind 
an attempt of a similar kind which occurred to me some time 
ago, and which I have had by me ever since. It may cause 
some amusement amongst your readers, and may call forth 
the exertion of some ingenuity to discover the mistake imder 
which I am labouring in supposing it to be perpetual. 

Descbiption. — ^A A A is a ring of thin wood ; B B B, 
Several spokes, moveable round the fixed points C C C, and 
only allowed to move one way by the construction of the 
openings D D D ; £ E E, heavy weights fixed to the ends of 
the spokes. 



Froin the position in which the wheel is at present, it is 
evident that the weights on the right-hand side (1 and 2) 
acting at a greater distance from the centre than thosp 

(4 and 5) on the other side, will cause that side to descend 
until the spoke 1 reaches the position 3, when it will exert 
no moving influence, but by which time the weight 8 will 
have fallen into the position 1, when a similar effect will 
take place, and so on with the rest. 

34. Self-acting Pump. 

Observing that persons no less distinguished than Bishop 
Wilkins, the Marquis of Worcester, &c., have amused them- 

302 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

selves with such things as perpetual motion, it may be some 
apology for a humble individual residing as I do in a very 
retired part of the country— ^scarcely within reach of much 
society — ^to confess that, by way of a little rational amusement 
and relief to the mind, I have at times, amid a variety of other 
investigations and inventions, amused myself, amongst the 
rest, with this of perpetual motion. The result I will, with 
your permission, lay before your readers. That I trespass • 
upon your pages, you are indebted to your correspondent, 
Mr. Linley, whose invention, p. 104, vol. 14, 1 thought might 
partially lead to an anticipation of one of my own, a model of 
which I constructed a short time ago. The system which 
first came to my mind, as likely to lead to the accomplishment 
of perpetual motion, was that of the syphon ; experimenting 
with which, opened discoveries that might prove useful in 
hydrostatics. Amongst these was a mode of equalizing the 
horizontal surface of the water in two separate vessels of 
different altitudes. The following sketch will afford an idea 
of my invention. 

Let A be a vessel, having two orifices, one at the bottom of 
it, a, and the other open at the top for waste water, b, filled 
to the brim. B, a reservoir, so far filled with water as not to 
come in contact with the bottom of the great wheel C, whose 
axle turns in the wood r, attached to the side of the reservoir ; 
d, a crank fixed to the axle of the great water-wheel, which 
turning moves up and down the rod «, attached to the beam 
E, which works the pump D, having its cylinder inserted in 
the reservoir B ; /, an upright attached to the upper vessel 
A, to form a support for the beam E ; the whole, together 
with the cylinder of the pump, being supported and tied 
together by the wood- work g ff ff* 

To produce the motion, draw the plug from the orifice at, 
from which the water gushing out with considerable force will 
immediately turn the water-wheel, which communicating 
motion, by the crank d and rod «, to the beam E, will cause 
the pump D to be worked, the water from the spout passing 
into the upper vessel A. Now, the cylinder of the pump, if 
one only be used, must be of suitable dimensions, or the 
velocity of its movement so increased by means of a multi- 
plying- wheel as to enable it to discharge water into the 
upper vessel A faster than the same escapes through the lower 
orifice a ; consequently, the vessel A will soon overflow from 



the capacious opening at b, to wliich a trough is attached, 
which collecting the waste water, causes it to descend also 
upon the circumference of the water-wheel ; thus contributing 
to its movement, and at the same time tending to preserve an 
imiform supply of water in the reservoir for the continued 
action of the pump. Hence you have a perpetual motion, so 
long as the whole keeps in repair and in good order, which is 
all that can be expected of any perpetual motion, constructed 
as it must be of perishable materials. 

But of wtiat Use are all the perpetual motion machines, if 
they can perform no other work than that of keeping them- 
selves in motion? For it is evident, in the case of my 
machine, that if I wish to increase the power of the wheel, 
fixed as it is in size, radius, &c., I must increase the jet of 
water, and consequently the pumps must be made of corre- 
sponding dimensions, or exert a corresponding increase of 

354 PERPETUUM mobile; 

force or velocity to replace the water ; so that it is eTident, 
neither Mr. Linley*s machine nor mine, in their present fixed 
state, can perform more than the simple operation of pumping 
their own water. 

And this is the case with all the perpetual motion machines 
I have ever observed — they can exert no useful or disposable 
power beyond that of keeping up an equilibrium, or getting 
beyond the point of equilibrium. * * 

Yours, &c., 


35. Peepktual Wateb Mill (vol. 14, 1831).— The 
inventor says : — 

I propose to endeavour to show how my plan of perpetual 
motion could be applied to practical and useful purposes. 
With a view to this, I give the prefixed sketch, with the fol- 
lowing description of its construction and use : — Let A repre- 
sent the side-wall or gable-end of a house, from 40 to 60 feet 
in elevation ; B, a cistern, filled with water, having an orifice 
near its bottom, and another open at the top, for the ready 
escape of waste water, as before ; C, a reservoir, so far filled 
with water as not to come in contact with the bottom of the 
water-wheel D, which, being an imdershot wheel, may, of 
course, be of such radius as is suitable for the power required 
to raise the water. Let E be another cistern, filled with 
water, equal to and provided with orifices as in cistern B, 
both orifices together discharging water faster than it escapes 
from the lower orifice of the cistern B ; F, two (or more, as 
the case may require) pumps, or expressing-foimtains, sup- 
ported against the wall by ties d d, and having their cylinders 
inserted in the reservoir C, and their lower suckers fixed at a 
little less than 32 feet above the surface of the fluid in the 
reservoir C. These expressing-fountains discharging their 
water into the cistern E a trifle faster than it escapes from 
its lower orifice, at an elevation of at least 33 or 34 feet above 
the surface of the water in the reservoir C, will afford space 
for water-wheels, supported against the wall by the upright 
K, say three water-wheels, G H I, of at least eight feet in 
diameter each, or two only of greater diameter. The upper 
wheel G being an undershot one, if not of greater radius 



than four feet, which it might be, may have its axle fixed at 
an altitude of at least 30 feet, and allowing the space of a 
foot between each water-wheel for the troughs a and d, which 
collect and convey the water from wheel to wheel, will give 
a space of 22 feet, occupied by the three water-wheels, 
leaving 10 feet for the descent of the water by the trough c 
to the cistern B (which may be four or five feet in depth), and 
thence to the reservoir C, which may be three or four feet in 
depth ; also the cistern E may be four or five feet in depth, 
and all of other corresponding dimensions ad libitum. To 

produce the motion, remove the plugs or stoppers from the 
lower orifices of the cisterns E and B ; the water rushing 
from the latter turns the great water-wheel D, which works 
the expressing-fountains into the upper cistern E ; from the 
orifices of which, the water escaping turns the undershot 
wheel G (which may be of larger diameter, if required) ; 
whence being collected by the spout a, it shoots over and 
turns the wheel H ; being collected by the spout b, it turns 
the overshot wheel I ; whence being collected by the spout c, 
it is conveyed into the cistern B, from thence to the water- 


866 P£KPETxrux xobii^; 

wheel D, and, finally, into the reservoir C, from which it is 
I'aised again by the fountains into the upper cistern £ ; and 
so on as long as you please, or as long as the whole keeps in 
repair and in good order. The apparatus may with fucOity 
be stopped for convenience at any time without fear of de- 
rangement, because the fountains carrying water &ster than 
it escapes from the lower orifices, the cisterns will be always 
full ; and it may be again set in motion with equal fiacility. 
With the above proviso, it cannot stop till the prevailing 
natural causes which gave it motion — ^viz., the pressure of the 
atmosphere and the descent of water, which in their nature 
and tendency are of themselves perpetual — shall be diverted 
Thus you may have the power, free and disposable, of three 
water-wheels in perpetual motion, to be applied to such usefid 
purposes of machinery within the building as its inmates may 
reqiure. A supply of water-mills might be thus provided in 
any situation— in the centre of the metropolis or other large 
towns — in places subject to a deficiency of rivulets suitable 
for mills on the common system. Neither would there be 
any necessity for resorting to rivers, or raising immense 
buildings upon their banks ; wherever there was a convenient 
house, it might be readily appropriated with little further 
expense than machinery. 

Yours, &c., 
Jan. 10, 1831. Ed. •• Vocis Eationis." 

A FEW Reasonable Considerations addressed to the 
Author of the "Voice of Reason" (vol. 15, 1831).— Two 
correspondents ojffer the following rjsmarks on the preceding 
plans, 'fixe fitst says j-^ 

I have considered with attention the plan for a perpetual 
motion, invented by the author of the " Voice of Season." 

In the plan laid down by your correspondent, it requires 
one entire revolution of the water-wheel to produce a single 
stroke of the piston ; and, by the same rule, the water ex- 
j^^es8^d by one operation of the piston must furnish th? 


impulse for an entire revolution of the wheel. The pistonic 
operations might, indeed, be midtiplied by the introduction 
of a pinion revolving to the water-wheel' in the proportion of 
2 or 3 to 1 ; but just in proportion to the number of revolu- 
tions made by the pinion, there must be an increased expen- 
diture of momentum on the water-wheel, — it being an inva- 
riable law in mechanics, that what is gained in time is lost in 
power ; therefore, there would be nothing, in reality, either 
gained or lost by this manoeuvre. 

We will suppose the barrel of the pump to be six inches 
in diameter, and that every stroke of the piston will produce 
a cylindrical column of water two feet in length. I put it to 
the good sense of your correspondent, whether it be possible 
to employ this inconsiderable force in such a manner as to 
cause a wheel of such magnitude to revolve with all its ap- 
purtenances, and a weight of water attached to it sixteen 
times heavier than the impulse. 

If it be answered that a constant stream will be accom- 
plished by the small aperture at the bottom of the cistern, I 
reply, this does not meet the objection ; for a constant supply 
is only a succession of parts which do not push each other ; 
and whether a portion of the water be sujffered to gush out 
of an aperture at the bottom, or the whole be allowed to fall 
over the tumbling bay at the top of the cistern, no real ad- 
vantage will be obtained, for no more than a two-feet column 
of water can be brought into action till the wheel has com- 
pleted its revolution. 

The wheel and crank being a lever of the first class, in 
order to balance a weight equal to 32 (the column of water in 
the pump) by a pressure equal to 2 (the water drawn by a 
stroke of the piston), the arms of the lever must be in the 
proportion of 16 to 1 ; now, to accomplish a two-feet plunge 
into the barrel of the pump, the crank, or short arm of the 
lever, must be one foot from the fulcrum, or axis of the 
wheel, — consequently, the radius of the wheel must be 16 
feet (exactly the height of the pump) ; and then what be- 
comes of the intermediate machinery of the three water- 
wheels, &c. ? 

If the radius of the wheel be increased, it must be raised 
higher ; and I ask again, how can so feeble an impulse be 
employed to give an entire revolution to such a ponderous 
body resting on its axle ? * * * * 


The second gives the following demonstration of the im- 
possibility of a Perpetual Water-wheel : — 

** From thi» example you may see how desirous people are to reach their 
object in their own way — what need there often is of enforcing on them 
truths which are self-evident — and how difficult it may be to reduce the 
man who aims at effecting something, to admit the primary conditions 
uuder which alone enterprise is possible." — Goethb« 

I am induced to make an attempt to demonstrate the utter 
impossibility, under any circumstances, of making a water- 
wheel that will supply itself instead of having any surplus 

The accompanying drawing represents part of an overshot 
wheel in section, the buckets only part filled, by which the 
whole of the water expended continues to act through a 
greater portion of the circumference than it otherwise would 
do. The area of the vertical section of the complement of 
water to each bucket is made 40 inches; and taking the 
breadth of the wheel at, say 28| inches, gives 40 lbs. as the 
weight of water in each bucket ; therefore, as there are 12 
buckets containing 40 lbs. each, No. 13 30 lbs., and No. 14 
only 20 lbs., altogether making a total of 630 lbs. acting on 
the wheel at the same time ; — to show clearly all the effect 
that can be expected from this, I have divided the horizontal 
radius into a scale of 40 equal parts (there being 40 lbs. in 
each bucket) ; and from the gravitating centre of the fluid 
contained in each is drawn a perpendicular to the scale, 
where the effective force, or weight in each bucket, may be 
read off as on the arm of a common steelyard. The weights 
will be found as follows, viz. :-*- 

No. lbs. 



1 211 



2 26i 



3 30|i 



4 33f 



5 36| 



6 88| 


211 ♦ 

7 891 


It is therefore quite evident 


, although 

we have 530 lbs. 

acting on one side of the wheel, a 

column of 

water weighing 

• Two thirds vf the value of No. 13 and only half that of No. 14 are 
here taken, as the contents are respectively 30 lbs. and 20 lbs. 


446 Ibff. re-acting at the same distance from the<centre, on the 
opposite side, will exactly balance the whole 530 lbs. con- 
tained in the buckets ; so that about a sixth of the expendi- 
ture rests on the axis without producing any useful effect, 
and the wheel so loaded must remain in a state of rest. 
Now, in spite of friction and the vis inertia of matter, if we 
suppose the wheel at work, it can raise only 446 lbs. at the 
expense of 530 lbs. ; but even if it could raise the whole 
530 lbs., we should then be but little nearer the mark, for we 
must remember that the gravitating centre of our power falls 
through a space of only 8 ft, 11 in,, while the water must be 
raised at least 11 ft. before it could be laid on and delivered 
clear of the wheel. 

As a further means of coming at the end I had in view s^i 
the commencement of this letter, I will conclude with a simple 
rule for calculating the quantity of water a wheel of this kind 
will raise : — Multiply the number of pounds expended in a 
minute by the height or diameter of the wheel in feet, divide 
the product by the height (also in feet) of the reservoir to be 
filled, and two-thirds of the quotient will be the answer 
required. Example, for . the wheel above described, making 
six revolutions per minute ;— 
42 buckets on wheel. 
6 revolutions per minute. 

252 buckets filled per minute. 
40 the weight of water in each bucket. 

10080 lbs. expended per minute. 
10 feet height of wheel. 

11) 100800 momentum, dividing^ by 1 1 feet as tbe height of reservoir. 

3) 9163-636 dividing by 3. 

3054*545 multiplying by 2. 

6109*09 answer in lbs. 
So that for every 1008 gallons expended on the wheel, we 
only gain sufficient power to supply 611 nearly. 

36. Scheme of an Hydkatjlic Moves, on the principle 
of Barker's Mill (vol. 15, 1831).-— The mventor offers the ac- 

PEEPXTUUx moblle; 

companying sketch, with description, of an H jdranlic MoTer, 
for communicating power to machinery, and recently inyented 
by him: — 

A is a hollow cylinder or pipe, forming the upright shaft 
of a mill on Barker's well-kno\Mi and effective centrifugal 

B B, the lateral pipes from ditto ; a a, ^the jets of water, 
whose centrifugal force gives the motion. 

C, beam to support the machinery, built at each end into 
the wall D D. 


E E, two cog-wlieels to communicate the molion to 

P, the rod of a pump (on Shalder's principle), which 
derives its supply from the well into which the water from 
the pipes is conducted, which it raises to 

H, a cistern into which one end of a syphon, I I, is intro- 
duced, the other end of which is soldered with an air-tight 
joint into the top of pipe A, to which it thus supplies the 
water which is continually running from the pipes B B, 
producing a constant motion which may be given by carrying 
the horizontal rod F through the wall D, to machinery for 
any purpose. And, if the statement in the pamphlet on 
Hydrostatics, by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful 
Knowledge, as to the effect of Barker's Centrifugal Mill, be 
correct, the power gained must be very great. 

The advantages of the invention are obvious. The whole 
of the machinery for a large factory may be contained under- 
ground, which, indeed, will be the most desirable situation 
for it, and valuable room will thus be saved ; the expense of 
erection will not be great; and the saving in cojds, &c., 
necessary for a steam-engine of the like powers, will be 
immense. I might, perhaps, have secured much benefit to 
myself by taking out a patent for the discovery, but I have no 
wish to profit by monopoly. All I desire is, that it may be 
recollected that the machine was invented by one who is 

A Journeyman Mechanic. 

37. The Paradoxical Hydrostatic Balance (vol. 15, 
1831). — ^After describing it in one form, this correspondent 
applies it in another, observing : — 

This hydrostatic balance, like the compound balance of 
Desaguliers, may be introduced to illustrate the impossibility 
of perpetual motion by a weight removed from the centre of 
a wheel. 

Take the hollow-rimmed wheel A B ; let it be air-tight and 
half filled with water. Let C be the axle ; at B place a 
hollow ball loaded to near sinking. Such a wheel, however 
fine its axle may be, or however ^vell lubricated, will not 

364 PERPETUUM mobile; 

make a single revolution, though the weight B occupies that 
part at which every deluded perpetual-motionist is desirous it 

should be placed ; concluding that, by such an arrangement, 
the production of another Orffyrean wheel must be inevitable. 

38. A Pkoject (vol. 18, 1832). — A correspondent 
writes : — 

Will you allow me a small space, to announce to the 
mechanical world a discovery I made upwards of ten years 
back, and which I now regret having so long kept to myself; 
but it has so much prejudice to contend with, that I had 
determined not to attempt to bring it forward until I could 
produce ocidar demonstration of the fact. However, as 
constant employment in a totally different line of business 
will in all probability prevent my doing so for many years to 
come, 1 have resolved upon explaining the nature of it, and 
soliciting the advice of your readers on the subject. The 
discovery consists of a simple method of raising a weight, by 
the descent of an equal weight, to a height equal to the 
descent, which I believe has never yet been accomplished. 
But if that were the whole merit of the discovery, it would be 
of little consequence and less utility. The case is, however, 
otherwise, there being a considerable disposable power over 
and above what is required to bring up the weight. I am 
well aware that nothing short of ocular demonstration will 


convince you and many of your scientific readers of the pos- 
sibility of my statement being correct ; but, if any of your 
numerous correspondents will point out a practicable method, 
whereby I can procure a moderate remuneration (bearing in 
mind that it is not in my power to take out a patent), I will 
engage to convince the most sceptical of the truth of what I 

39. Two " CERTAIN " Plans for Producing Perpetual 
Motion (vol. 21, 1834). — A correspondent, under this title, 
writes : — 

Very few young mechanicians escape being seduced into 
an attempt to produce a perpetual movement, by making 
gravitation counteract itself. They are not contented with 
being told by older men, that a cause can never be made to 
exceed its own power ; yet gravitation is expected by them 
to lift up on one side more weight than sinks on the other, 
with some per centage of friction into the bargain. Nature, 
however, is too true to itself to be so taken in by all or any 
of the multitudes of various ways the inventive genius of man 
has contrived, and still keeps contriving, to circumvent her 
immutable laws, with no other effect than to render the case 
so complicated as to puzzle the judgment of the inventors, 
which ends usually in their firm belief that they have out- 
witted nature instead of themselves. I acknowledge that in 
my youth I was one of this class, and, for the benefit of the 
young, I beg to present you with two certain plans for pro- 
ducing perpetual motion, and compelling gravity to be* 
frolicsome, and do more work than she ought. 

Let A (Fig. 1) be a cistern full of oil or water, above 4 feet 
deep. Let B be a wheel ; freely suspended within it, on its 
axle, let there be four wide glass tubes, 40 inches long, c e c c, 
having large bulbs, holding, say a pint, blown at the closed 
end. Fill these tubes with mercury, fix on an Indian-rubber 
ball or bladder, that will hold a pint, to each of them at the 
open end, and let them be attached round the wheel, as 
exhibited in the figure. As the pressure of 40 inches of 
mercury will exceed the atmospheric pressure, and also that 
of the four-feet column of water, when the Indian-rubber 
bottle is lowest, and the tube erect, as at D, the mercury will 



fill it, leaving a vacuum in the glass bulb above. On the 
opposite side the mercury will fill the glass bulb, and the 
Indian-rubber bottle will be pressed flat, as will also be the 
case in the two horizontal tubes. Now, it is evident that the 
two horizontal tubes exactly balance each other ; but the tube 
D, with its bulb swelled out, displaces a pint of water more 
than its opposite tube, and hence will attempt to rise with 
the force of about one pound ; and each tube, when it arrives 
at the same position, must produce the same residt, the wheel 
must have a continual power, equal to about one pound, with 
a radius of two feet. — Q.E.D. 

{^ig. 1.) 

{Fiff. 2.) 

Let Fig. 2 represent a light drum of wood — one hdf of 
which is inserted into a cleft in a water- cistern A, which fits 
it, and from which the water is prevented from escaping by a 
strip of leather, which the water presses against the drum, 
and which thus operates as a valve, without much friction 
(especially if oil be substituted for water in the cistern). 
Now, as this drum is much lighter than water, it must ever 
attempt to swim, and thus, in perpetually rising, cause the 
drum to revolve forcibly round its axle. — Q.E.D. 

I tried this last method thirty years ago, but it was so 


obstinate as not to move one inch at my bidding, though 
it obviously is proved, to demonstration, that it ought to have 
gone on swimmingly. I have just heard that an Italian 
gentleman has hit upon the same plan ; so it seems that the 
mania is not confined to England. 

[The remarks of a correspondent respecting the foregoing, 
called forth the following observations from the Editor : — J 

We think our correspondent, S. F., has entirely mis- 
conceived the scope of the playful accoimt, given in our last 
number, of two plans of perpetual motion. The object of the 
writer seems to have been, to impress on the minds of young 
mechanicians the folly of wasting their time in vain endea- 
vours to render the effects of causes greater than the causes 
themselves ; or, in other words, to gain power out of nothing 
— a process without limit or value, were it not cut short by 
the want of all limit to its folly ; and this he could not, per- 
haps, have done in any way so well, as by exhibiting a couple 
of infallible perpetual movers that would not stir at all, 
though they bade as fair for it as any of their kindred. 

40. Essay at Pebpetual Motion (vol. 26, 1836). — 
F. S. Mackintosh says : — 

I herewith forward you a description of a machine which 
was constructed by me in the year 1823, with a view to 
produce a perpetual motion. With this machine, and the 
studies necessarily connected with it, first originated the 
suspicion that the planets could not continue in motion 
imless they gradually approached the centre of attraction. 

In the first place, let us describe the machine. Fig. 1 : A 
is a sectional view of the interior of the wheel, which is 
formed in two halves upon one shaft ; each half or section is 
furnished with a projecting ledge, and an opening is left 
between the two ledges sufficiently wide to admit of a magnet 
being introduced between them, by which '^arrangement the 
magnet may be brought as near to the ball as may be neces- 
sary (see Fig. 2). B is a magnet, whose line of attraction 
acts at right angles with the line of gravity, C is an iron 
ball, under the action of two forces. The magnet continually 
drawing the ball up the inclined plane within the wheel, and 
gravity continually drawing it to the bottom, by their united 



action it was supposed the wlieel wotild revolve for ever, or 
till it waus worn out ; upon the same principle that a wheel 
revolves hy the animal force or muscular action of a mouse or 
squirrel, which carries it up the inclined plane, whilst it is 

iFig. 2.) 

{Fig. 1.) 

continually drawn to the bottom by the action of gravity^ 
thereby causing the wheel to revolve by the weight of its 
body. The model was taken from the earth's motion round 
the sun; and the following process of reasoning seemed to 
justify the assumption that the wheel would move on till it 
was worn out : — 

" The earth is carried round the sun by the action of two 
forces, one of which is momentum, which is not, in reality, a 
force or cause of motion, but an effect derived from an original 


impulse ; and that impulse, or the momentum derived from it, is 
not destroyed, because there is no resistance to the moving 
body — that is, there is no friction. Well, I cannot make this 
machine without having resistance to the motion — that is, 
friction ; but to compensate for this, I have two real forces, 
two causes of motion, each of them capable of imparting 
momentum to a body : they are both constant forces ; and 
from one of them, the magnet, I can obtain any power that 
may be required within certain limits." 

This reasoning appeared conclusive, and the wheel was 
made ; but when the magnet was applied, instead of the ball 
rolling up the inclined plane, the wheel moved backwards 
upon its centre. It occurred to me, that by placing a small 
ratchet upon the wheel, as shown at D, this backward motion 
of the wheel on its centre might be prevented, in which case 
the ball must roll up the inclined plane, and that a perpetual 
motion might then ensue; but this ratchet I never tried, 
having about that time begun to perceive that the idea of a 
perpetual mechanical motion, either on the earth or in the 
heavens, involves an absurdity; and that, therefore, the 
motions of the planets must necessarily carry them continually 
nearer and nearer to the centre of attraction. 

Trial of the foregoing Plan (vol. 26, 1836). — By 
R. Munro, who says : — 

The result of Mr. Mackintosh's essay at perpetual motion 
might be attributed to the avoidable friction caused by the 
manner in which the iron ball is placed in the wheel. 
Curious to try the experiment, I proceeded, and, with the view 
of diminishing the friction, I placed two wheels on the axis 
of the ball, but the result was precisely that described by Mr. 
Mackintosh. I next applied the ratchet, as suggested, but 
with no better effect ; the ball rolled towards the magnet, but 
did not give the required motion to the wheel. It is not 
unlikely, then, that the present ingenious attempt will not be 

41. An Attempt at Perpetual Motion (vol. 44, 1846). 
-^An " Amateur " writes : — 

The account of an attempt to realise this idea, though a 

370 PBBPETUTJM mobile; 

failure, may not be wholly uninteresting, as not only may ex- 
perience be gained even from errors, but also trouble saved to 
others in enabling them to avoid them. Suppose, then, that 
the buoyancy in water of a flat piece of wood, when its sur- 
face lies either horizontal, or more or less so, is greater than 
that of a similar piece when perpendicular. Connect two thin 
floats of wood by a slip of wood turning on a centre ; the 
floats joined to the connecting strip by hinges, so that the 
one descends on one side edgeways, but the other in its rise 
doubling up inwards against the connecting strip, draws down 
the other below its own level; at which point the power 
appears to be gained. Now, more floats added, equal on 
both sides, it might be supposed that they would draw one 
another round the extreme lowest point, and thus a continual 
rotary motion be produced ; the same thing becoming alter- 
nately the greater and less power. Such, however, on 
experiment, proves not to be the fact. 

Section IV. — Claims to Discover^/. 

1. Alleged Discovery op Pekpettjal IVtoTioN. — A 
correspondent in "Drakard's Stamford News" makes the 
following communication : — " Since the death of Sir Isaac 
Newton, it has been the study of thousands of little and 
contracted minds to discover the long-wished-for perpetual 
motion ; but, doubtless in consequence of Sir Isaac's opinion, 
the completion of the thing has scarcely ever engaged the 
mind of a philosopher. However, when he has been immor- 
talized for one centuiy (which will be on March 20th, 1827), 
your present correspondent, a friend to society, will offer to 
the public (on contribution of the promised sum*) a motion 
that will then have continued eleven years. For its comple- 
tion he has spared neither time nor expense, and, above all, 
has omitted that which the vulgar ever found to decay. It 
consists of that which is not foolish or nonsensical, such as 
springs, balance, and weights, but of materials which will 
continue a century as well as one day. No weight is too 

• A viilpjar error, we suspect. We know of no sum that is promised. 
— Ed. *• Mec. Mag." 


oinmense for its motion, and the mechanic's art shall be 
baffled at its velocity."— [" Mec. Mag.," jrol. 1, 1823-4, p. 
252.] ' 

2. A Pebpetfal Motion Advebtised. — This subject has 
so frequently occupied your attention, and that of your con- 
tributors, that the following advertisement in the " Edinburgh 
Gourant," 15th December, 1707, may probably be thought 
worthy of a comer in your valuable work :—" These are 
giving advertisement that in pursuance of some overtures 
given in by Mr. Robert Stewart, Minister of the Gospel, in 
January and February last, in the ' Edinburgh Courant,' con- 
cerning the perpetuum mobile, and for the further satisfeiction 
of mankind, and clearing their scruples, anent the same; 
there was a curious model made at ,the charge of John, Earl 
pf Breadalbane, which model wiM demonstrate the possibility, 
probability, and practicability of these three new discoyeries, 
viz. : Firstly, a balance, by which an equal overcomes an 
equal at the same time. Secondly, that being granted, a 
Ijveight always going down, and never going lower. Thirdly, 
these being granted, a clear idea of the perpetuum mobile. 
If any man doubts any of these propositions, the model is 
]t)rought to town," &c., &c.— [Vol. 9,. 1828, p. 432.] 

•3. Alleged Discovery of Perpexual Motion bt 
Richard Van Dyke. — (From the " Philadelphia Gazette.") 
— ^We were much gratified yesterday with the result of an 
examination of a self-moving machine, which may be seen at 
Bowlsby's Merchants' Hotel, i^ Slater Street, and .which the 
inventor calls a perpetual motion. We have no doubt of its 
Jjeinff nearer a perpetual self-moving principle than any in- 
vention fiiat has preceded it, and as near as any we shall 
ever see. The great merit, aside from its practical uses, is 
its simplicity, and the certainty and readiness with which you 
-perceive that it covers no trick or deception. It is little less 
than an illustration of one of the most obvious laws of 
nature. The agent is the atmosphere, bearing directly, by 
means of perpendicular boxes and oblique tubes, upon the 
4)uckets .of a wheel, which is propelled with greater or less 

* b2 

372 PERPETUUM mobile; 

velocity, but which is constantly propelled, and will continue 
to run, without the possibility of cessation, while the mate- 
rials of which it is composed last, and the present laws of 
nature continue. The inventor is Mr. Richard Van Dyke, of 
Orleans county, in this State, who gives it as the result of 
^ve or six years* application to the subject. He is a venerable 
man, communicative and intelligent, and described as highly 
respectable by several citizens of the West, on whose repre- 
sentations entire reliance may be placed. He affects no mys- 
tery, but clearly and satisfactorily explains the arcana of the 
machine."— [Vol. 12, 1829-30, p. 55.] 

4. Alleged Discoveby by R. W. Franklin. — ^I have 
read a great deal in your Magazine about perpetual motion, 
and have studied this disheartening question many years 
before your work began. In No. 319, I see there is an 
account of a perpetual motion invented by one Richard Von 
Dyke, of America. I do not suppose any one can understand 
what that machine is from such an account ; but no doubt it 
was the best you was able to procure. I verily believe that I 
invented the same thing a few months ago, but was pre- 
vented from putting it to the test of experiment by great 
troubles in my family. If a few of your correspondents 
will favour me with their addresses, I will appoint a time 
and place to have their united opinions on my scheme. 
But 1 hope no one will apply to be of the number who does 
not know something about pneumatics : I do wish that person 
to be one who wrote on the subject, page 399, No. 312. — I 
remain, Sir, your humble servant, 

R. W. Franklin. 

North Place, Wilsted Street, Somers Town. 

P.S. — ^When the gentlemen have examined my drawings, 
I wish some one of them to give your readers an accoimt 
of it.— [Vol. 12, 1829-30, p. 192.] 

The following is from the same claimant : — 
I have within the last three months made very great im- 
provements in my plan, so as to increase its power fifty times, 
that is, by making the wheel to work in water only, instead 


of water and air. Success is certain. Its power may be as 
easily calculated as the common overshot water-wheel, and a 
wheel on this plan may be made of fifty-horse power. Twenty 
years ago 1 had a good working knowledge of the five me- 
chanical powers, and was always of opinion that a self-mover 
could not be made by any of them. I determined never to 
look for it anywhere but in the sciences of hydraulics and 
pneimiatics. I had a short correspondence with Lord Stan- 
hope on this subject in the year 181 6. I have began to make 
my machine, and can defray the expense myself ; it is now 
half finished ; but I shall want the assistance of some person 
of property and ability to take out a patent. As I am obliged 
to proceed slowly, I think I had better look for that assist- 
ance at once. My machine will, in eight cases out of ten, 
abolish the steam-engine, and will not cost twenty shillings 
to work a year. 

You have my address, and will probably be kind enough 
to take charge of any letters which may be addressed to me. 
— I am, &c., R. W. Franklin. 

August 29, 1830. 

P.S. — If all my expectations are realised, it will be the 
most important invention this country can boast. — [Vol. 14, 
p. 13.] 

5. Self-winding Clock. — The " Connecticut Register " 
states that a person in that State has invented a clock which 
winds itself up, and keeps correct time, and strikes the hour 
regularly, and will continue to run until worn out, without 
the application of any power external to itself. — [Vol. 12, 
p. 255.] 

6. Wright's Perpetual Sphere. — It is related in 
Hytton's Dictionary that Edward Wright, the mathematician, 
made for his pupil, Prince Henry (son of James VI.), a large 
sphere, and " there was in it a work for a motion of 17,100 
years, if it should not be stopped, or the materials fail." 
" This sphere," it is added, *' though thus made at a great 
expense of money and ingenious industry, was afterwards, in 
the time of the civil wars, cast aside amongst dust and rub- 
bish, where it was found, in the year 1646, by Sir Jonas- 

374 PERPETUUM mobile; 

Moore, who, at his own expense, restored it to its first state 
of perfection, among his other mathematical instruments and 
curiosities.*' Query, Is this curiosity still extant? — [Vol. 15, 
p. 288.] 

7. Sellekt's Hydraulic Self-acting Engine.-^Mf, 
Charles Doyne Sellery has invented a new engine, which he 
terms the "Hydraulic Self-acting Engine." It works by the 
pressure of the atmosphere, and is said to possess a power 
equal to six times that of the steam-engine ! Another re- 
markable character of this powerful engine is, that it neither 
requires fire, wind, nor water ; and when once set going, 
works without any assistance whatever ! — Exeter Flying Post. 
— ["Mec. Mag.," vol. 17, p. 224.] 

8. Buckle's Perpetual Motion. — ^A correspondent in 
North Berwick writes as follows : — " Mr. William Buckle, a 
respectable tradesman of this place, has, after many years' 
close study and observation of the celestial bodies, discovered, 
the perpetual movement. He has not only discovered 
wherein longitude consists, but longitude itself to an azimuth. 
He has prepared tables by which his calculations can be 
carried to any extent, and by which he can, at any time, and 
under the most unfavourable circumstances, ascertain the. 
longitude with the same facility and correctness as latitude \% 
at present by the nautical instruments now in use. These 
latter are entirely superseded by the use of an instrument 
ronstrucied by himself, of the most simple description. He 
has every confidence in being able to explain and defend the 
principles and correctness of his discovery to any one, and is, 
at this time, endeavouring to bring it under the notice of 
Government." — Scotsman. — [_'' Mec. Mag.," vol. 19, p. 368.] 

9. Townsend's Perpetual Motion. — The announce- 
ment in our last number, by Mr. Wm. Pearson, that he has 
discovered a veritable perpetual motion, has brought us 
nnother to the same effect from a gentleman who, like Mr. 
Pearson, disdains to " shrink behind an anonymous signa^- 


<ure,'* and glories (or hopes to glory) in the name of Thomas 
Townsend, of Chancery Lane, London. He twits Mr. 
Pearson with having never tried whether his machine would 
really go for ever — (Is not this asking too much ?)— and says 
that he has actually made a model of his which has worked 
60 well that he means forthwith to make one on a larger 
scale.— [Vol. 20, 1834, p. 304.] 

10. Dr. Stringfellow's Perpetual Motion. — By the 
" Georgia (American) Messenger," we learn that a Dr. String- 
fellow, of Macon, has actually discovered the long-sought 
and never- before-found perpetual motion. The Editor thus 
partially describes it : — *' The machine is very simple, the 
whole consisting of a very few pieces, yet comprising the 
most ingenious and the most perfect principles of mechanism. 
It is comprised within a square frame of about eighteen 

; inches, and the parts consist only of two perpendicular 
spindles and two horizontal cog-wheels, a trundle-head, three 

' small suspension chains, a spiral spring and weight, and a 
small inclined plane.'* — Weekly Chronicle* — [" Mec. Mag.,*' 
vol. 27, 1837, p. 160.] 

11. Extraordinary Mechanical Invention. — A gen- 
tleman at Milton-next-Gravesend, who for many years carried 
on an extensive business at llamsgate, after eleven years' 
study has succeeded in completing some machinery which 
will, when brought into use, he imagines, supersede the use 
of steam power. It may, he thinks, be applied to clocks of 
any description, requires no winding up when put together, 
and will continue going so long as the materials last. — (Cor- 
. respondent of the " Times.*') The writer of this announce- 
ment might, quite consistently, have added at the end of it— 
'• and for some time after.'* — *' Mec. Mag./* vol. 3B, 1843, 
p. 48.] 

12. Joseph Hutt's Perpetual Motion Machine. — ^A 
correspondent of the '' Midland Counties Herald " says : — 
'* A framework knitter of Hinckley, named Joseph Hutt has, 

376 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

after twenty years' application and study, completed a 
machine which he calls a ' self-moving machine,' or * per- 
petual motion.* He set it in motion the 26th August last, 
since which time it has continued to work with the greatest 
regularity. The motions of the machine are hoth quick and 
powerful, and may be greatly increased, and applied to any 
purpose. It does not require the aid of steam or any other 
power to keep it in motion, having one continual and regidar 
movement of its own. Hutt, who is a poor man, is anxious 
to obtain assistance to enable him to test still further the 
value of his invention.** 

The best thing which the friends and neighbours of this 
" poor man " could do for him would be, to make him a 
present of some standard work on mechanics — (say Gregory 
or Moseley) — from which he would learn that the object he 
is aiming at is a positive impossibility. — [Vol. 47, 1847, p. 463.] 

13. Hendktckson's Discovery op Perpettjai. Motiobt, 
IN America. — ^The following is an extract from the " Times '* 
of Thursday: — "Mr. J. G. Hendrickson, of New Jersey, 
announces the discovery of the principle of perpetual motion. 
The success is obtained by the employment of arms and 
balls attached to a cylinder so as to keep the extra weight 
always on one side, and, therefore, to give the cylinder a 
constant inclination to turn round. The machine requires 
no starting. Take away the blocks, and it goes off like a 
thing of life. The 'Journal of Commerce' says of it: — 
' The model was in our office yesterday, and attached to some 
clockwork, which it turned without once stopping to breathe. 
We see no reason, why it should not go until worn out ! 
After a careful examination, we can safely say, in all serious- 
ness, that the propelling power is self-contained and self- 
adjusting, and gives a sufficient active force to carry ordinary 
clockwork, and all without any winding up or replenishing.'" 
—[Vol. 61, 1854, p. 326.] 

Perpetual Motion — Pathetic Story of its In- 
ventor, Hendrickson.* — About fourteen years ago we 

• This account, from an American paper, is here introduced to com- 
plete the foregoing article. 


Sublished the first description of a machine invented by Mr. 
ames G. Hendrickson, of Freehold, N. J., " to go of itself." 
A model, which Mr. H. has made, after patient whittling for 
forty years, was brought into our office, and we found that it 
would go without any impulse from without, and would not 
stop unless it was blocked. The power was self-contained 
and self-adjusted, and gave a sufficient force to carry ordi- 
nary clockwork without any winding up or replenishing. In 
short, we saw no reason why it would not go until it was 
worn out. ' The inventor was an old man, who had spent 
his whole life in pursuit of the object he had now attained. 
He was invited to be present at various fairs and exhibitions 
of new inventions, and wherever he went, his machine formed 
one of the chief attractions. The professors were all against 
him. Accordingly, Mr. H. was seized at Keyport, N. J., 
for practising "jugglery," under the "Act for suppressing 
vice and immorality." To expose the supposed trick, an 
axe was brought, and the cylinder splintered into fragments. 
Alas! for the philosopher, there was no concealed spring, 
and the machine had " gone of itself." (He made a new 
machine.) His model once more completed, was constructed 
of brass, hollow throughout. (He sent a working model to 
the Patent Office, Washington.) The moment the blocks 
were taken out, the wheels started off" " like a thing of life;" 
and, during ten months, it never once stopped. The inventor 
had perfected two new machines, and made a very comfort- 
able livelihood exhibiting them, prosecuting his efforts mean- 
while to secure his patent. Age crept upon him, however, 
before this point was reached ; and last Saturday afternoon 
he breathed his last at Freehold. The night after his death 
his shop was broken open, and both models stolen. Fortu- 
nately, the drawings are preserved, and there is a little 
machine, one of the earliest made, now running in Brooklyn, 
where it has kept up its ceaseless ticking for nearly twenty 
years. — New York Journal of (7om/?*crcc.-^[ Abridged from 
the '' Scientific American," New York, 26th November, 
1859, the Editor of which states :— " We saw the self- 
same story going the rounds of the press some eighteen 
months ago, and it is now revived with the sad intelligence 
of the inventor's death."] 

14. Chenhall*s Perpetual Clock. — [The following 

878 PEBPBTUXJM mobile; 

letf er is from a gentleman of undoubted honour, and who 
is above all interest in the ingenious tradesman of whom h« 
writes. — Eds. M. M. : — ] 

I believe it has been the custom, from time immemorial, 
among nine-tenths of our scientific people, to view the 
hitherto occult theory of perpetual motion as a chimera, and 
to regard the remaining few, who will still, night after night, 
expend thefir midnight oil in efibrts to bring the said occult 
principle to light, witfc as little sympathy as those who once 
dreamed away the better part of their existence while groping 
for the philosopher's stone. 

In a small out-of-the-way street of Plymouth (Drake-street) 
there is exhibited, in the shop-window of a watchmaker named 
Chenhall, a clock of the size of an ordinary eight- day clock, 
with , a novel and exceedingly simple movement, and which, 
simple as it appears, is nevertheless said to be gifted with the 
property of going as long as the durability of the materials 
permits, without the aid of weight or spring ; in short; with- 
out any manual assistance whatever. 

,1 beg to state that I have no personal interest in the a£fair 
whatsoever, nor am I even acquainted with the nature of the 
unseen agency which has been called in by Mr. Chenhall to 
effect hid purpose, and which the latter does quite right in 
concealing from public view; but this I know, that the 
hidden part occupies but a very small space, and that one 
glance at the mechanii^m which is visible, seems to me suffi- 
cient to satisfy the most sceptical that Mr. Chenhall' s asser- 
tions may be relied on. — A Subscbibee. Plymouth, May 1, 
1858.— [Vol. 68, 1858, p. 447.] 

Section 5. — Impostures, 

PER^ETuii MoTioK iMPbs^iBLE. — An impostor exposed. 
— A cprrespondfent, who sigris *' Mactaggart,'' makes, among 
other, ihe following reflections oii perpetual motion : — 

* * * In vain did the ancient Egyptians 

employ tlieir black arts to find it out; in vain did the mathe- 
tnaticiuns of the school of Alexandria club their thoughts 
together respecting it. * * * * . 


Yet, though this dark secret has never been found out, 
fior ever will, it has been of mighty use to the advancement 
of the arts ; for mankind, in searching for it, have found many 
other things of very great value. * * * 

Mystery has ever been a thing of great value to mankind ; 
it is indeed the mother of curiosity. * * 

Since, now-a-days, to all informed minds, perpetual motion 
seems at once a thing of entire impossibility to find out, it 
must surely be a great folly in any artizan or man of genius 
to waste his days and his substance in order to make the dis- 
covery : the thing is Nature herself, on one of her grandest 
scales ; it is the utmost presumption, therefore, in man to 
dare to mimic her. The ocean, as it ebbs and flows, is a per- 
petual motion ; death and life on the earth also are the same 
thing ; and obvious to all are the ever- wheeling orbs in the 
firmament of heaven. 

The Almighty has wisely ordered that nature should ever 
be in continual motion, never stable ; the continual move- 
ment is therefore an invention of the Deity, for his rational 
creatures to contemplate and do little else with, as the causes 
by which it is actuated are concealed from our feeble coni- 
prehensions in impenetrable darkness : we may say they are 
gravity, attraction, and so forth ; but what these are we know 
not ; they are only names we give to causes, whose properties 
are unknown — the workmen, we may say, who do stupendous 
things, which set us a wondering, but to whom we are entire 
strangers. ***** 

However, let us farther treat of man trying to imitate with 
his arts this grand moving spectacle of his Creator. The 
nearest approach he has ever made towards it (though, at the 
same time, we say it is just as far from it as any) is the simple 
pendulum; and were it possible to swing it free of friction, 
in a complete vacuum, it is likely the thing would be accom- 
plished ; but as this is not possible, a continual motion cannot 
be obtained. 

Many have fancied that the elenients of nature may be so 
brought to act on each other, that a movement of this kind 
may be had ; but these trials, one after the other, have all 
failed; perhaps efforts "virith magnetism have oftener been 
tried than any, as it has both the virtue of attraction and 
repulsion; but these have been attended with no greater 
isuccess than the rest, though many impostors have appeared 


from time to time, who have reported that they had, with 
deep study and much difficulty, found out the important 

One of those quacks, a few years ago, so far imposed on 
the good people of Scotland, who inhabit the country places 
and small villages, with an article which he had made, pur- 
porting to be this famous motion, that he extracted a good 
deal of cash out of their pockets, by its exhibition. At 
length he had the hardihood to go to Edinburgh, the modem 
Athens, with it. Instantly his puffing handbills brought 
hundreds about him, all anxiously wishing to have a sight of 
the wonderful machine. Amongst others who paid to get in 
to behold it, was an ingenious young artist, who, after 
looking at it for a little while, like the rest, requested very 
politely the inventor's leave to examine it in his hand. It 
was a beautiful thing, certainly, to look at. An inverted 
glass bulb, about six or eight inches high, and about five in 
diameter at the mouth, was placed on a mahogany bottom, 
about the one-fourth part of an inch in thickness, round the 
side of the glass ; in the interior stood six pieces of metal, 
which went under the name of magnets ; in the centre of the 
whole, on a delicate pedestal, was seen something rather 
thicker than a needle, moving slowly round : and this was 
the perpetual motion. 

The yoimg mechanic began his observations upon it by 
examining minutely with a microscope round the thin edge 
of the mahogany bottom, and was not long before he found 
something like a hole, with a stop very neatly put in it ; this 
stop he soon extracted, and holding it up to the crowd, said, 
'' This is the place by which the key is inserted, that winds 
up a thin coiled spring, by which the motion is kept appa- 
rently perpetual.''— [Vol. 1, 1823-4, p. 253.] 

A Pekpetual Motion Imfostitre, fkom America. — A 
person "just arrived from the United States -of America," is 
going the round of our provincial towns, exhibiting what he 
styles " one of the grandest pieces of mechanism that was 
ever presented to the world," being nothing less than the 
" perpetual motion which was long sought for by the great 
Sir Isaac Newton, and since by men of all nations of the 


' very first talents in the arts and sciences.'' " This grand 
machine" is said to have worked ever since it was first 
invented — upwards of seven years — and will continue to 
work without any assistance whatever, but by the power of 
its own gravity, balance, and pivots, as long as the world 
stands ; or, in other words (if the materials it is made of 
would last), for ever !" We are further assured " that it 
has been exhibited in the United States, and all the principal 
towns in the West India Islands ; and is allowed, by men of 
genius, and by those who are acquainted with mechanical 
powers, to be one of the most wonderful and extraordinary 
pieces of machinery that was ever invented in the world, 
reflecting the highest credit on the inventor, for his patience 
and perseverance for upwards of fifteen years study on this 

The " inventor " of this wonderful wonder having lately 
honoured the city of Norwich with a visit — for " a short 
time" only, however, while he " waits the decision " of the 
Royal Society of London, to whom he has applied for " the 
premium offered by Government" (there is no premium) — ^the 
mayor thought proper to direct a friend in London to inquire 
whether Mr. Perkins knew anything of this American 

Mr. P. told the inquirer that he had once actually travelled 
400 miles in America to see a piece of mechanism which he 
believed to be similar, but that having foimd it to be all a 
deception, it had been broken to pieces by the populace. 

An intelligent correspondent at Norwich, who examined 
the apparatus, has explained to us pretty clearly in what the 
deception consisted ; but without an engraving (which would 
be thrown away on such a piece of trickery), his deception 
would not be intelligible to our readers. 

It may suffice, for the information of our coimtry friends, 
to mention that the concealed cause of motion is thought to 
lie in the plinth, and that it seems to consist of " machmery 
attached to the lower part of the trundle, worked by a spring 
like the pocket- watch. The " planes, &c., upon the wheels 
are mere gew-gaws, to divert the attention from the real 
cause."— [Vol. 2, 1824, p. 361.] 

Adams' Pebpetual Motion Impostttbe. — I beg to 
inform you of a Scotsman, much marked with the small- 

382 PERrETuuM mobile; 

pox, and whose name, according to his handbills, was Adams, 
about two years since exhibited, for eight or nine days, his 
pretended perpetual motion at this place, and, I believe, took 
the natives in for fifty or sixty pounds. Accident, however, 
led to a discovery of the imposture. A gentleman, viewing 
the machine, took hold of the wheel or trundle, and lifted it 
up a little, which, I suppose, disengaged the wheels that 
connected the hidden machinery in the plinth, and imme- 
diately he heard a sound similar to that of a watch tvhen the 
spring is running down; the Scotsman was in great anger, 
and directly put the wheel into its proper position, and the 
machine again went round as before. The circumstance was 
mentioned to an intelligent person, who determined to find 
out and expose the imposture, and took with him a friend to 
view the machine ; they seated themselves one on each side 
the table upon which the machine was placed; they then 
took hold of the wheel and trundle, lifted them up a little ; 
there being some play or liberty in the pivots, directly the 
hidden spring run down. They continued to hold the 
machine in spite of the endeavours of the Scotsman to pre- 
vent them. Wheii the spring had run down, they placed the 
machine again on the table, and offered the Scotsman fifty 
pounds if it could then set itself going. Alas ! notwithstand- 
ing his fingering and pushing, it remained motionless. A 
constable was sent for, the impostor went before a magistrate, 
and there signed a paper confessing his perpetual motion to 
be a cheat. He was suffered to go at large upon promising 
to leave the town.— [Vol. 3, 1824-5, p. 364.] 

The Finch Lane Perpetual Motion Imposture. — ^I 
observed some time back in your excellent work, a supposed 
refutation of what was stated to be a perpetual motion, by a 
man in Finch Lane. This man stated that he could stop the 
machine (merely a ball hanging to a long spring), and that it 
would set itself agoing without his interference. The machine 
certainly did this, and at first puzzled me a good deal ; and 
the reason of my writing to you. now about it, is to expose 
the imposition in the proper manner. I may here remark 
that the man has shown considerable ingenuity (as I believe 
the idea to be quite new), though he certainly is an impostor. 
Below the ball was an orifice, and through this, the air from 


without the room was conducted immediately upon the ball, 
which it set in motion, and continued to accelerate, until it 
had received, by continually passing over the hole, the full 
effect of the stream of air. The weather being warm, and 
yet observing a fire in the room on both my visits, was what 
led me to the discovery ; and on endeavouring to keep open 
the door by which I entered, the man interfered ; but I did 
so long enough to lessen considerably the motion of the ball, 
by partly destroying the current of air. — [Vol. 4, 1825, 
p. 302.] 

Redhceffer's Perpktual Motion Impqsture.* — ^In 
the year 1813, a belief in the delusive principle of perpetual 
motion was created throughout a considerable portion of the 
community of the United States, by a deceptive machine, 
constructed by one Redhoeffer, and had gained sufficient 
character to induce an inquiry into its reality by the appoint- 
ment of a committee of the Legislature of Pennsylvania. The 
attention of Mr. Lukens was turned to the subject, and 
although the actual moving cause was not discovered, yet the 
deception was so ingeniously imitated in a machine of similar 
appearance made by him, and moved by a spring, so well 
concealed, that the deceiver himself was deceived ; and Red- 
hoeffer was induced to believe that Mr. Lukens had been 
successful in obtaining a moving power in some way in which 
he himself had failed, when he had produced a machine so 
plausible in appearance as to deceive the public. — Franklin 
Journal,— \J' Mec. Mag.," vol. 46, 1847, p. 239.] 

Miscellaneous Journals. 

Having thus concluded the classified extracts from the 
** Mechanics' Magazine," we now proceed with quotations from 
miscellaneous journals : — 

Perpetual Motion. — In an article on " Mental Delu- 
sions," in the " Penny Magazine " for 1841, the following, 
;among other cases, occurs : — 

In the reign of Anne, a gentleman named Stukelyf left his 

^* See aUo *' Gill's Tech. Journal,*' quoted in Chap. VIII., p. 222. 
+ See also Chap. VIII., p. 226. 

384 PEKPETUUM mobile; 

practice as a barrister, and retired into the country to perfect 
his discovery of the perpetual motion, and never left it but 
once for thirty years, when he took the oath of allegiance to 
George I., and on which occasion, for the only time, he 
shaved, and changed his shirt and clothes. Before he died, 
he had abandoned his pursuit of the perpetual motion, and 
would laugh at his own folly in confining himself in-doors. — 
[New Series, folio, p. 409.] 

On the Impossibility op Pebpetual Motion, we take 
the following from the " Magazine of Science :" — 

If by perpetual motion be imderstood a power which 
moves, and which will move to the end of time, wi^out 
regard to the wear and perishable nature of materials, it is in 
vain to expect such can be made by human means and 
human intelligence, however much we may hope for future 
discoveries in science to aid us. In the works of God alone 
must we look for such perfection and continuity of motion. 
We can only abide by those laws already in action, and must 
therefore construct our machines according to these previously- 
arranged impulses ; and unfortunately for the visionary 
schemer of the perpetual motion, these laws are too stubborn 
for him to modify, much less destroy. Even supposing he 
should content Imnself with an apparatus which would move 
only while its materials held togetiiier, the resistance of the air, 
the friction of the various parts, their vis inerticB, and the 
general laws of gravitation, are impediments never to be over- 
come ; and although all have failed, yet much ingenuity has 
been exerted, and talent called into exercise, by the many 
attempts which have been made to surmoimt them. 

Mechanics, particularly the known properties of the lever, 
have given rise to innumerable schemes. One was called 
"The Valley Windmill.'* This consisted of a wheel with 
five arms, each arm made of two pieces connected end to end 
by a joint. When made to turn roimd, the jointed ends on 
one side fell back, or rather hung down from the end of the 
fixed part of the arm; rising to the greatest elevation, it hung 
close to the fixed arm ; passing beyond this, it fell back 
towards the centre ; and thus by its position making a shorter 
lever, it bore with less weight ; but when it had gone a little 


further, altering its centre of gravity, it fell down suddenly, 
when the moveable and fixed arm became one long lever, 
much heavier than in any other position, and this extra weight 
was to turn the whole. The machine had but one fault — ^it 
would not go. " The "Wheel of Balls," described by the 
Marquis of Worcester,* was another scheme. This was a 
very shallow drum, divided into a number of compartments, 
into each of which a leaden ball was placed, and as the wheel 
turns round each ball rolls alternately to and from the centre 
of the wheel ; and it would seem, from the principle of the 
lever, that, as the weights are always further from the centre 
on one side than on the other, a continuous rotatory motion 
must be produced ; but it was found that though the balls 
were thus placed, yet a very few of them were away from the 
centre, while there were many near to it ; thus, those on one 
side counteracted those on the other, and, as in the other 
instance, the machine would not go. 

Hydraulics, pneumatics, and chemistry, all lent their aid, 
but in vain. Water-wheels were to throw up water enough 
to turn themselves. Pumps were to move by self-created 
power. Water-balances were alternately to rise and fall by 
each other's weight. Blasts of air were to work bellows, and 
the bellows were to produce blasts of air. Hydrostatic 
parodoxes became numerous. Barker's mills were in requi- 

[The article next proceeds to notice the results of electricity,, 
giving an account of " De Luc's "Dry Pile, or Electrical Column 
and Melloni's Rotatory Pile."]— [Edited by G. Francis, F.L.S. 
Vol. 1, 1849, p. 194.] 

On the Impracticability of Pboditcing a Pebpetuai- 
Motion. — Perpetual motion is a motion which is supplied 
and renewed from itself, without the intervention of any 
external cause : to find a perpetual motion, or to construct a 
machine which shall have such a motion, is a subject which 
has engaged the attention of mathematicians for more than 
2000 years ; though none perhaps have prosecuted it with so 
much zeal and hopes of ultimate success as some of the 
speculative philosophers of the present age. 

* The Marquis describes a very different wheel. 


Infinite are the schemes, designs, plans, engines, wheels, 
&c., to which this longed-for perpetual motion has given 
birth; and it would not only be endless but ridiculous to 
attempt to give a detail of them all, especially as none of them 
deserve particular mention, since they have all equally proved 
abortive; and it would rather partake of the nature of an 
affront .than a compliment, to distinguish the pretenders of 
this discovery, ^.s the very attempting of the thing conveys a 
very unfavourable ide^a of the mental powers of the operator. 

For among all the laws of n^^tter and motion, we know of 
none which seen?LS to afford a^y principle or foundation for 
such an effect. Action and re-action are allowed to be ever 
equal; and a body which gives any quantity of motion to 
another, always loses just so much of its own : but, under the 
present state of things, the resistance of the air, and the friction 
of the parts of machines, ncessarily retard every motion. 

To keep the motion going on, therefore, there must either 
be a supply from some foreign cause, which, in a perpetual 
motion, is excluded : 

Or, all resistance from the friction of the parts of matter 
must be removed ; which necessarily implies a change in the 
nature of things. 

For, by the second law of motion, the changes made in the 
motions of bodies are always proportional to the impressed 
moving force, and are produced in the same direction with it;, 
no motion, then, can be communicated to any engine, greater 
than that of the first force impressed. 

But, on our earth, all motion is performed in a resisting 
fluid, namely, the atmosphere, and must therefore, of neces- 
sity, be retarded : consequently, a considerable quantity of 
its motion will be spent on the medium. Nor is there any 
engine or machine wherein all friction can be avoided ; there 
being in nature no such thing as exact smoothness or perfect 
congruity ; the manner of the cohesion of the parts of bodies, 
the small proportion which the solid matter bears to the 
vacuities between them, and the ];iature of those constituent 
particles, not admitting it. 

Friction, therefore, will also in time sensibly diminish the 
ynpressed or communicated force ; so that a perpetual motion 
can never follow, unless the communicated force be so muclj 
greater than the generating force as to supply the diminution 
,occasioned ,by all these causes ; but the generating force 


cannot communicate a greater degree of motion than it had 
itself. Therefore, the whole affair of finding a perpetual 
motion comes to this, viz., to make a weight heavier than 
itself, or an elastic force greater than itself; or, there must be 
some method of gaining a force equivalent to what is lost, by 
the artful disposition and combination of the mechanical 
powers: to this last point, then, all endeavours are to be 
directed ; but how, or by what means, such a force can be 
gained, is still a mystery !* 

The multiplication of powers or forces avails nothing ; for 
what is gained in power is lost in time ; so that the quantity 
of motion still remains the same. 

The whole science of mechanics cannot really make a little 
power equal or superior to a larger; and wherever a less 
power is found in equilibrio with a greater — as, for example^ 
twenty-five pounds with one hundred — it is a kind of decep- 
tion of the sense ; for the equilibrium is not strictly between 
one himdred pounds and twenty-five pounds moving (or 
disposed to move) four times as fast as the one hundred 

A power of ten pounds moving with ten times the velocity 
of one hundred poimds would have equalled the one hundred 
in the same manner; and the same may be said of all the 
possible products equal to one hundred : but there must still 
be one hundred pounds of power on each side, whatever way 
they may be taken, whether in matter or in velocity. 

This is an inviolable law of nature ; by which nothing is 
left to art, but the choice of the several combinations that 
may produce the same effects. 

The only interest that we can take in the projects which 
have been tried for procuring a perpetual motion, must arise 
from the opportunity that they afford of observing the weakness 
of human reason. 

For a better instance of this can scarcely be supplied than 
to see a man spending whole years in the pursuit of an object, 
which a single week's application to sober philosophy would 
have convinced him was imattainable. 

But for the satisfaction of those who may not be convinced 

* The foregoing is an epitome of what has appeared, first in most of 
the German, and from them copied into English Encyclopaedias. 


388 PESPETuxTM mobile; 

of the impossibility of attaining tliis grand object, we shall 
add a few observations on the subject of a still more practical 
nature than the above. 

The most satisfactory confutation of the notion of the xwssi- 
bility of a perpetual motion is derived from the consideration 
of the properties of the centre cf gravity ; it is only necessary 
to examine whether it will begin to descend or ascend when 
the machine moves, or whether it will remain at rest. If it 
be so placed that it must either remain at rest or ascend, it is 
clear, from the laws of equilibrium, that no motion derived 
from gravitation can take place : if it may descend, it must 
either continue to descend for ever with a finite velocity, 
which is impossible, or it must first descend and then ascend 
with a vibratory motion, and then the case will be reducible 
to that of a pendulum, where it is obvious that no new motion 
is generated, and that the friction and resistance of the air 
must soon destroy the original motion. 

One of the most common fallacies by which the superficial 
projectors of machines for obtaining a perpetual motion have 
been deluded, has arisen from imagining that any number of 
weights ascending by a certain path on one side of the centre 
of motion*, and descending on the other at a greater distance, 
must cause a constant preponderance on the side of the 
descent; and for this purpose weights have been made to 
s^de or roll along grooves or planes, which lead them to a 

* On this important point, the reader will do well to consult Bishop 
Wilkins, on the relation between the parts of a wheel and those of a 
balance, Chapter T„ page 9 to 12 ; likewise Desaguliers's account of a 
coinpoiind balance, on which two bodies of equal weight may be 
varicusly Fu^pended with respect to the centre, without losing their 
equilibrium, Chapter IV., pages 93 to 97 ; also noticed by Nicholson 
at page 79. At the conclusion of the Introductory Essay, the author 
has described the diagram of a model of his invention, perhaps still 
more convincing, as it forms an actual wheel, the rotation of which 
occasions all the weights on one eide to protrude, yet without over- 
balancing ; and, curious enough, on reverrfng the rotation the advanced 
weights all recede, and those nearest the centre are projected further 
from the centre, with no better result. 'No mechanic who has made 
himself acquainted with even these few facts, will feel justified in 
maldng models for plans of self-motive machinery, until he has first 
eatisfi^ himself, by drawings made to scale, that the invention will 
.-.bear the test of rigorous examination. 


more remote part of the wheel, from whence they return as 
they ascend, as represented in the following figure* : — 

Or -^^ey hare heen fixed on hinges, which aHow them to fali 
oyer at a certain point, so as to hecome more distant from the 
centre ; but it will appear, on the inspection of such a machine, 
tj^at although some of the weights are more distant from the 
centre than others, yet there is always a proportionally smaller 
nijimber of them on that side on which they have the greater 
power ; so that these circumstances precisely counterbalance 
each other. 

We have heard it proposed to attach hollow Arms to a 
wheel by joints or hinges at the circumference, and to fill 
these arms with quicksilver or small balls instead of the plan 
represented by the above figure ; but though we have never 
heard of .it JtifiviQg bc^ein tried) yre are perfectly convinced that 

♦ In the model, the balls may be ^ept in their plaecf ^jy a i>lfite of 
glass ooyering the wheel ' 


it would end as all other attempts have done ; that is, in a 
total failure. — [" The Artisan ; or, Mechanic's Instructor/* 
2 vols., 8vo. London, 1824-5.] 

A Scotch journal gives the following popular view of the 
suhject : — 

It is not many years since the discovery of the perpetual 
motion was a suhject of grave discussion, and numerous 
individuals of high ingenuity wasted their time, and exhausted 
their means, in futile contrivances destined to realize a notion 
which nobody had shown to he impossible. A more general 
diffusion of sound knowledge has of late thrown popular 
discredit on pursuits of this chimerical nature, and replaced 
the delusions which occupied minds of an inventive turn, by 
projects of a more rational character. Still, however, the 
subject is now and again revived, by some young mechanical 
novices, who for a short period of their noviciate imagine 
themselves endowed with a higher degree of inventive genius, 
than ever before fell to the lot of any single contriver. A 
young man in the first year of his apprenticeship, struck with 
the beauty of the machinery which he sees around him, and 
as yet but ill-acquainted with the principles of its construction, 
and having heard a deal about a perpetual motion, begins to 
plan, and lights upon a project which he feels sure could not 
have been before thought of, and it must succeed. Many a' 
sleepless hour it costs him, and it is only after a salutary 
exhibition of the absurdity of his scheme to astonish the 
world by his powers of invention, that he is cured of his 

It may not be difficult to see why the particular contrivance 
failed in producing the expected effect ; but it is not there- 
fore manifest that all contrivances would similarly fail, or 
that the problem is practically impossible ; and, supposing 
the novice after his failure were to inquire at some of his own 
experienced acquaintances — some one, perhaps, whom he has 
heard ridiculing the notion in the strongest terms, as grossly 
absurd — would he receive a convincing statement of the 
insurmountable difficulty ? Put the question broadly — why 
is a perpetual motion, in the sense in which mechanics under- 
stand it, impossible ? It is not enough to say that great and 


numerous attempts have been made to attain it, and all with- 
out success ; for the question just occurs — ^why did they fail? 
If they failed for want of ingenuity, then a perpetual motion 
is possible ; but that is denied,— then wherein consists the 
cause of failure ? 

It is in this way that we may suppose the experienced 
derider of perpetual motions to be "pushed home'* by his 
young experimenting friend, and he will require some know- 
ledge of mechanical principles to escape without humiliation. 
The attempt is not always successful : we have been witness 
to more than one case, in which the strength of the argument 
lay on the wrong side. We have even met with instances, 
where, at the same time that the notion of a perpetual motion 
was ridiculed in unqualified terms, exactly the same absurdity 
was admitted indirectly, as one of the most easy and practical 
things which could be imagined. As a palpable case, we have 
heard a gentleman of veracity state, and maintain the state- 
ment, that he had observed in the course of his travels, 
which were not very extensive, an apparatus, consisting of 
an overshot wheel and pump, for clearing a quarry of bed- 
water ; and that the wheel was driven by a portion of the 
same water which the pump lifted. Now this is the very 
beau ideal of a perpetual motion. Here was a pump capable 
of lifting more water than was required to work it ; con- 
sequently, the superfluous water, being so much extra power, 
might have been applied to do other work, as lifting stones 
and the like. And farther, the same apparatus might be 
erected over a tank of water, and it would work on so long as 
the machinery remained in good repair, and the power which 
it furnished after driving itself might be applied to any useful 
purpose. But what are the real facts of the case ? Sup- 
posing the machinery once fairly set in motion, and supposing 
that its motion was retarded by no friction or other resisting 
cause, and that there was no waste of water by leakage, then 
would it continue to work for an indefinite time, — the pump 
would go on, lifting the water to the height from which it 
descended upon the wheel, but not the miilioneth part of an 
inch higher. 

In fact, as the pump obviously can give no power, the 
whole apparatus might be viewed as a single water-wheel, in 
which the ascending side received at the bottom, and carried 
up with it just as much water as the descending side received 


at the top to carry do^m ; and in sucb an arrangement, it is 
manifestly of no consequence whether the water ever leaves 
the wheel or not ; that is, whether it be thrown off by the 
descending buckets at the bottom, and taken in by the 
ascending buckets at the same point, or be simply carried 
round with the revolutions of the wheel without displacement 
from the buckets into which it was first poured; And if this 
be true, it is not very difficult to see that the wheel would 
move ad infinitum, just as well without the water at all ! 
Now, the real circumstances are these : — The effective power 
of the best-constructed overshot water-wheel is only 70 per 
cent, of the power which drives it; that is, for every 100 
gallons of water expended upon driving it, it would lift 70 
gallons to the same height,* and no more ; antd a pumping 
apparatus must be very well constructed indeed, to give an 
actual result equal to 70 per ceilt. of the power of the wheel. 
Here, then, is a loss of 30 per cent, of power in working the 
apparatus, and, consequently, all the water lifted by the pump 
would just be half sufficient to keep up the motion, without 
requiring the machinery to do any other work. So much, 
then, for not knowing how to observe. 

The case which we have here noticed is probably absurd 
to every mechanic who knows anything about hydraulic 
machines; but the same absurdity has sometimes been 
scarcely less glaringly introduced into the schemes of ignorant 
projectors. Many of these worthies, in the plenitude of 
their presumption, undertake to create pbwer by complex 
fcombinations of mechanical elements which they obviously 
do not understand. Within perhaps 200 yards of ^here we 
write, still stands, for aught we know to the contrary, a 
specimen of this sort, on which we believe riot less than 
£1,000, were spent, and which was not patented only in con- 
sequence of the death of the projector; The money belonged 
to a person who, fortunately, can sustain the loss of it without 
serious inconvetiience, and who perhaps deserved to pay th^ 
penalty of his ignorance; the merit of the contrivance 
belonged to one of those individuals who would rather 
scheme than work, and who had just that amount of me- 
chanical knowledge which is dangerous. The machine 
alluded to is likewise an hydraulic one, and its pretended 
object was to save three-fourths of the water used, by pumping 
it up again to the top of the fall, and this without loss cS 


effective power in the machine! This person, and his 
employer, no doubt laughed loudly together at the absurdity 
of a perpetual motion. 

But all the great projectors of this class are not simply 
water doctors. We have known them take to contrivances 
for " lifting great weights without loss of speed,'* and find 
their multiplicity of pulleys, wheels, and pinions, bent and 
straight levers, all resolvable into a value little superior to 
that of a single pulley. This is fact ; we have seen such a 
combination of mechanical elements, and for such an object, 
on which a man — a great genius in his own and his employer'^ 
estimation — ^worked for upwards of two years with bolted 
doors, and every other precaution against the mighty secret 
being divulged to the wondering world. — ["The Practical 
Mechanic and Engineer's Magazine," vol. 1, Glasgow, 18^1, 
pp. 8-12.] 

The following paper gives " An Account of Three Large 
Loadstones, one of which presented an unusual Line of 
Attraction. By John Deuchar, M.W.S., and Lectiu-er on 
Chemistry in Edinburgh. Read before the Wernerian Natural 
History Society, March 10, 1821." 

After a few introductory remarks, he says : — " The largest 
of the loadstones, independent of its armature and connecting 
iron, weighs 125i pounds, and it measures 

In length .. .. 10} inches 

In breadth 8^ » 

In height .. .. .. .. •• ^i >, 

and was capable in all of bearing a weight of 206 poimds." 
He then proceeds to a description of the two others, and 
observes : — 

Before concluding this paper, I may take notice of an im- 
position which was, about three years ago, attempted to be kept 
up upon the prosecutors of science in different parts of the 
united kingdom by a needy shoemaker, of the name of Spence,* 
as this disgraceful fraud was first exposed by means of the 
largest of the magnets just explained. This individual pre- 

* Sec further notices of him in pages 180 and 226* 



tended to have discovered a black substance which did not 
conduct magnetic energy through it, and he wished it to 
appear that when this substance was made to come between 
a steel beam and a magnet, the power of attraction was 
lessened, if not altogether stopped. He placed machinery in 
such a situation as not to be observed; and, with the assistance 
of a few falsehoods, which he foimd very useful in raising 
the curiosity and extorting the charity of credulous visitors, 
he tried to induce a belief that a pendulum was then moving 
a clock, and had continued to do so for six months, without 
any other exciting power than two small magnets. This is 
shewn in Fig. 9. A B are two supposed non-conductors of 
(Fig. 9.) 

(The pretended Pendulum Motion by Magnetism.) 

magnetism, affixed to the opposite ends of a beam moving on 
its centre ; C D are the two magnets, which were said to 
attract alternately the end E of the pendulum E F. At the 
commencement of the motion of the pendulum, it was said 
that one of the pieces of the black substance, say A, was 
moved from between the magnet C and the pendulum ; this 
enabled the attraction between C E to take place, and cut off 
the attraction between D E ; and this is the state in which 
the figure on the plate is dra^vn. But as E approaches nearer 


to C, SO as to prevent the actual contact of C E, then Amoves 
up, and entirely cuts off the effect, and at the same time B 
leaves the power of D in full action ; therefore E moves from 
C towards D, and, when it has nearly arrived there, B again 
moves up, and A descends : and thus, it was maintained, the 
continued motion of the pendulum was kept up. 

Another way of exhibiting this deception is shown in Fig. 
lO. Here, by the false accoimt given, we are told that a 
very fine steel beam, about an inch in length, has been made 

{Fig. 10.) 

(The pretended Perpetual Magnetic Motion.) 

to revolve with great rapidity for many months, and that two 
magnets, partially coated with the extraordinary black sub- 
stance already noticed, and placed at opposite sides, are 
the sole cause of the motion. This motion, it is almost 
unnecessary to add, was also induced by secreted machinery 
in the box on which it rested. On one of the nights of lecture, 
when I was upon the subject of magnetism, this scientific 
juggler brought his perpetual motion, as he called it, to the 
class-room. As at this time I had the largest of the three 
magnets (Fig. 11) suspended there, for the purpose of ex- 
phuning its peculiarities and powers, I thought it would be a 
good opportimity to try the truth of his assertion with regard 
to the cause of the motion. I therefore placed the revolving 
needle (Fig. 10) on a table under the large magnet, while 
the usual weight which it carried was removed, but the 
needle moved as rapidly as before. Here, then, a loadstone 
capable of lifting 205 poimds did not affect a needle said to 
be moved by two very small artificial horse-shoe magnets. 
On another occasion I placed a piece of the black substance, 
which was called a non-conductor, between a magnet and a 
magnetised sewing-needle, which I balanced on the point of 
my finger, and I found it to be attracted and repelled, as 


FE&rETuuM mobile; 

the different poles wete presented, in the same Way as if no 
such hlack suhstance had intervened, — [" The Glasgow Me- 
chanics' Magazine," vol. 2, 1824-5, p. 98* 
{Fig, 11.) 

(Dr. Hope's large Magnet^ as it was suspended in Mr. Deuchar** 

PEKPEiUAL Motion ; a Paradox. — ^Let A B C D, Fig. 7< 


bfe a wheel moveable on its axis, passing through its centra 
O ; if one half of it, A B C, be situated in a vessel tilled with 



water, and the other half ADC lose as miich of its weight 
as the weight of its bulk of water, will it occasion A D C to 
preponderate and produce a constant motion; or does the 
wheel remain in equilibrium, and if so, what is the occasion 
of this paradox ?— [Vol. 2, 1824-5, p. 42.] 

(Fig. 2.) 

Explanation oi' te/e foregoing Paradox. — Th^ 
pressure of the water in every direction at any point B, Fig. 2, 

being equal, if E B and F B be 
the directioiis of two of these' 
pressures equally inclined to the 
radius produced, O B G, then 
their resultant is G B O, in thef 
direction of the centre; which 
C8tn, therefore, have no tendency 
to put the wheel in motion. The? 
same may be said of every two 
similar pressures, hence the 
Wheel remains in equilibrium. — • 
[Vol. 2, p. 42.] 

A Perpetital Motio^ P^ump.— ^A co-respondent of the 
" Glasgow Mechanics* Magazine " thus describes his riews : — ' 

I thought I had discovered the perpetual motion. The 
method which appeared to itte likely to answer was this : — « 
Place s Wheel in a large cistern, so that it may turn roimd 
without touching the water at the bottom, and that the water 
falling upon the wheel may not escape from the cistern. Attach 
this wheel to the end of a beam, or balance, by a crank ; to 
the other end of this balance attach a pimip, or pumps, to 
raise a sufficient quantity of water from the cistern to drive 
the wheel ; raisd this water into another cistern about double 
the height of the wheel ; below this cistern place another, con- 
taining a wheel of the same size, and in the same situation ai^ 
the former. The water in the highest cistern would turn 
this wheel, and the water in the middle cistern would drive 
the first- mentioned wheel (being lower than the other). You 
will observe, the intention of the higher wheel is to drfv^ 



machinery, as the power of the lower one b exhausted (or, 
as I afterwards understood, overcome) by working the 
pumps.— [Vol. 2, p. 219.] 

A Peepetual Motion by Hollow-spoke© Wheel and 
Balls ; thus described : — 

The annexed drawing shows how I have at length taken 
this enticing jilt (perpetual motion), though after a long and 
weary chase — 

Through pleasant and delightful fields, 

Through barren tracts and lonely wilds ; 

' Mongst quagmires, mosses, muirs, and marsbet. 

Where deil or spunkie never scarce is ! 

By chance I happened on her deu. 

And took her when she didna ken. 

W W W W (Fig. 3) represents a wheel with twelve 
hollow spokes, in each of which there is a rolling weight or 


ball. C C C C is a chain passing over two pulleys P P. 
There is an opening round the wheel from the nave to the 
circumference, so as to allow the chain to pass freely and to 
meet the weights. The weights are met by the chain as the 
wheel revolves, and are raised from the circumference till 
they are at last brought close to the nave, where they remain 
till, by the revolution of the wheel, they are allowed to roll 
out to the circumference. By this arrangement, the weights 
are, on one side of the wheel, always at the circumference, 
so that that side is more powerful than the other, which 
causes the wheel continually to revolve. F F F F is the 
frame of the machine ; M M M M the mortices for joining 
the two sides of the frame by cross rails. The arrows point 
out the direction in which the wheel turns.-r-l am, yours, &c., 
Dixon Vallance. Liberton, Lanarkshire, Nov. 10, 1825. 
—[Vol. 4, p. 227.] 

He afterwards writes to suggest employing angled spokeff^ 
which allow the rolling weights to run off above the centre^ 
In this machine the angle between the chain and the spokes 
is less acute than in the other, which has spokes straight out 
from the centre, and of course it has more power ; the wheel 
with 12 hollow spokes having an opening in them to allow 
the chain to pass freely, and to meet the weights, with the 
chain passing over two pulleys. 

[Our friend, Mr. Vallance, is probably not aware that 
machines on the same principle with the above have been 
repeatedly tried, and as often foimd to fail. Indeed, until he 
can remove the effects of friction, he will not get this amended 
machine to move any time. It is not to be disputed, that the 
friction of the rollers or the chain, and the wheel itself, will 
completely compensate any power derived from the weight 
which the descending balls may have over the ascending. — 
Eds. " The Glasgow Mechanic^' Magazine," vol. 5, 1826, 
p. 166.] 

Perpetual Motion : its Pursuit Censured. — In the 
'^ Saturday Magazine," for 1838, appears an article on. 


*^ Recreations in Xatural Philosophy : " the fifth part is ^ On 
Perpetual Motion," from which the following is an extract : — 

An amusing, but at the same time a melancholy and in- 
structive, history might be formed of the various visionaiy 
schemes which, in all ages, have disposed some enthusiastic 
men to dissipate their time and fortune in seeking to obtain 
some object which should either confer boundless riches on 
its possessor, or shield him from all t^e ordinarv accidents 
of life. 

Our distinguished countryman. Dr. Thomas Toung, says 
ihat '^ to seek for a source of motioj^ in the construction of a 
machine betrays a gross ignorance of the principles on which 
all machines operate. The only interest ihat we can take in 
the projects which have been tried for procuring a perpetual 
motion, must arise from the opportunity afforded us to observe 
the weakness of human reason ; to see a man spending whole 
years in the pursuit of an object which a week's application 
to sober philosophy might have convinced him was unattain- 

It will be amusing to adduce a few examples of this *^ gross 
ignorance," in some out of the numerous attempts which 
have been made to obtain perpetual motion. 

[These consist of three plans of wheels with moving 
weights, and a self-filling goblet, — this last from Dr. Amott's 
work, — all occurring in the present treatise.] 

A few years ago, a person fond of mechanical pursuits 
i^ubmitted to the writer a plan for a machine whose object 
was to supersede the steam-engine. Water was the moving 
power, and the principle was somewhat similar to that of the 
hydrostatic press. He said his invention, being new, could 
not be affected by anything that had been written on the 
siubject. He contrived many arrangements and spent much 
money, without the smallest prospect of a propor;tionate 
Xeturn from it.— [Vol. 13, p. 99.] 

On a Plan op Pebpetual Motion at Ferraba, 
we find the following in an Italian Journal : — 

Signer Alfonzo Roito, of Ferrara, has made several experi- 
.]|ients, by .which l;ie bejieves to have discoyered perpet.ual mgr 


tion. His invention does not appear to deserve to be put on 
one side like many others, for the Government has taken it 
seriously into consideration. The Cardinal Ilgolini, legate at 
Ferrara, has nominatpd a committee of competent judges — 
philosophers, engineers, and mechanics — for the purpose of 
testing its merits. The committee has already sat twice, and 
reports and drawings have been sent to Rome, to the Govern- 
ment, with the following recommendation by the committee ; — 

First. After having carefully examined the forces which 
act on the machine, and having as nearly as possible tested 
their power, always to the disadvantage of the machine, we 
find that the forces favourable to the motion are superior to 
those which are against it. The resistance of the parts which 
compose the machine appear to us to possess all the requisite 
strength ; consequently, our opinion is, that it is ver^ likely 
that the machine may be put m motion by itself, and that it 
will not easily be deranged. 

Secondly. Your committee finds that the construction of 
the machine is ingenious and simple ; and after having ex- 
amined the machine as to the n^ode in which its movements 
are brought to act together, your committee considers it 
worthy of high praise. 

Thirdly. The expenses of the construction will not exceed 
I36OO Roman crowns, 8,070 francs, — a small outlay if the ad- 
vantages gained shall be such as the inventor anticipates ; 
among others, of setting in action foi^ pair of stones for 
grinding wheat. — [" The Inventors* Advocate, and Patentees* 
Recorder," 4to., 1839, vol. 1, p. 183.] 

The Attempts to Produce a Perpetitaii Motion. — 
In a leading article of the "Inventors' Advocate," the 
Editor says : — 

There are few objects on which so much time and money 
have been thrown away as in the fruitless aittempts to con- 
struct a machine that will move for ever. Patent after patent 
lias been taken out with a view to secure the .exclusive right 
'%o inventions in which it was falsely imagined the desired 
object had been attained. A description of all the inventions 
for the purpose of procuring perpetual motion would, indeed, 
present a curious record of ignorance, fallacious reasoning, 
.aud misdirected ingenuity. 

402 PERPETI7UM mobile; 

[After some general remarks he adds : — ] 

It lias been frequently attempted to apply the power of 
gravitation for this purpose ; but as that power acts equally on 
the whole mass of matter in the earth, its force cannot be 
varied, nor its direction changed, by any means within the 
limite of human capability.— [Vol 9, 1840, p. 264.] 

AiiLEGED Discovery by Geobge Watheb. — ^In the 
" Engineer,*' February 8, 1856, is copy of a police report, 
in which is an account of the difficulties of George Wather, 
tailor, about 70 years of age, from Bridport, who applied for 
advice. About four years ago (1852) he ventured on marry- 
ing a third time, and carried on business in a small way, until 
he by accident discovered that which had for centuries baffled 
the greatest philosophers, namely, the "perpetual motion." 
His friends said that doubtless he would meet with distin- 
guished patrons in London. Encouraged by their representa- 
tions, he and his wife set off with just sufficient to bring them 
to town. His impression was that he should be possessed of 
thousands in a few days, but, to his utter astonishment, neither 
the authorities at Marlborough House, the Lord Chancellor, 
nor Lord Palmerston, would entertain his invaluable discovery, 
nor, in fact, could he find any one who would ; thus he was 
left destitute, without means to get back to Bridport. He 
was relieved from the poor-box, and obtained a pass home, 
[Vol. 1, 1856, p. 73.] 

An American Plan op Perpetual Motion : — 
Even the pursuit after perpetual motion, hopeless as it is, 

{Fig. 1.) 



may not be considered entirely vain, in occasionally leading 
to useful modifications of machinery. As an instance of this, 
I here submit to you a plan suggested by an ingenious friend 
of mine, several years ago, as in the diagrams annexed. Fig. 
1, a perpendicular, and Fig. 2 a horizontal view. 

A A, two vertical wheels, placed diagonally, and revolving on 
the axes X X. The levers B B and C C are hinged at the 
peripheries of the wheels. By rotation the arms B B are 
projected from the centre of motion, while the arms C C are 
drawn in. 

{Fig. 2.) 

It is plain that a series of arms as shown in Fig. 2, will 
produce an eccentric motion, causing the weights at their ends 
apparently to preponderate on the side B. — Belidob. — [" The 
Journal of the Franklin Institute/' Philadelphia, 1828. 
Vol. 6, p. 414.] 



Willises Perpetual Motion. — ^A Public Exhibition.-^ 
The following is abridged from the " Scientific American :" — » 

One of the immutable laws of dynamics is, that aU bodies 
when once set in motion will continue their movements until 
stopped by some opposing force. The only known opponents 
to continued motion are friction, gravity, and resistance of the 

Many attempts have been made during the last three 
centuries to evade the dynamic law first mentioned. We 
could fill many pages with descriptions of pretended per- 
petual motion machines, some of them very curious, if it were 
necessary ; let it suffice to refer to Austin's self-moving 
machine (page 209, vol. 2), and another on page 267, as 
specimens of what has been done. 

One of the latest attempts at perpetual motion is that of 
Mr. E* P. Willis, first put on exhibition at New Haven, 
Conn., and lately at New York (1856). It is heralded to the 
public through advertisements and placards, as " the greatest 
discovery ever yet made." 

[An engraving is given of the machine, as seen in a glass 
case, and the Editor having seen it at work, adds : — ^] 

This machine is very beautifully constructed* The shaft 
bearings are fine steel points, and have but little friction. 
Possibly it is one of those contrivances that will run for a few 
hours without stopping, owing to nice adjustment and the 
trifling amount of friction ; we are inclined to think, however, 
that it is driven by electro-magnetism, or some other concealed 

The ideal water-wheel, to work a pump and lift water 
enough to keep the wheel always moving, is planned on the 
same principle. 

No one is allowed to examine, and they say in their placards 
" Why it is not a bonajide ' perpetual motion' is left for the 
curious on the subject to determine." — '[Vol* 11, 1856, 
p. 201.] 

Another Ameiiica]^ Perpetual Motion. — In our 
remarks (says the Editor) relative to Willis' "perpetual 
motion," we referred to an ideal water*wheel intended to 
keep itself in constant motion. 


We are in the frequent receipt of letters containing sketches 
■of devices arranged on similar principles, and asking our 
«idvice relative to the proper steps necessary to be taken in 
order to secure such valuable discoveries. We have received 
from an inventor in Virginia a sketch of one of the before- 
named water-wheels, and he wants to hear from us *' as soon 
as possible.'' 

Another correspondent describes a plan that was "sug- 
gested by a dream," but " it stopped " after every push. — 
[Vol. 11, 1856, p. 232.] 

In Poppe's " Taschenbuch fiir Urhmacher, &c.," 1822, re- 
lating to Clock and Watch work generally, is an " Appendix, 
on Perpetual Motion," a large portion of which referring to 
the imposition practised by Geiser, applications of Galvanic 
agency, and some descriptions previously given in the present 
work, are, therefore, either omitted in consequence^ or much 

Meaning by perpetual motion a machine whose motion is 
constantly renewed by the means of its own mechanism, and 
uninterruptedly maintained without any fresh impulse, the 
discovery of such a motion is difficult but not impossible ; as 
Kastner, Langsdorf, and other celebrated mathematicians 
have frequently shown. 

For several himdred years some of the best mechanics have 
given themselves endless trouble and pains to discover this 
motion without success. Many have had plans they thought 
would solve the problem, but after a short time have ceased 
-or required repair. Balls have been made to run uninter- 
ruptedly in channels for a certain time, smalls clocks moved 
by atmospheric influence have been brought forward, so was 
Cox's barometer, also Recorder's cleverly-constructed pocket- 
watch, worked by a hidden weight, and numerous other con- 
trivances of this kind, have all failed to deserve their claimed 

The wonderful and cleverly- worked pendulum clock of 
Oeiser, of Chaux de Fond, which was recognised and admired 
by many of the best-informed men of the day, proved a 
deception as a perpetual movement. When thoroughly ex- 
amined inwardly and outwardly, some time after his death, it 
was found that the centre props supporting its cylinders 


contained cleverly-constructed, hidden clock-work, wound 
up by inserting a key in a small hole under the second hand: 
Of all the contrivances to produce perpetual motion yet 
brought to light — Zamboni's pile, and Eamis's electric pen- 
dulum clocks seem most deserving of the name.* 

Perpetual Motion: an Absurd Pretension. — Lewis C. 
Buck, M.D., Professor of Chemistry in the University of the 
City of New York, &c*, in his " Researches on Commercial 
Potash," after giving the specification of a patent for a most 
absurd mode of manufacturing potash, and which by the 
specious pretensions of the patentee, imposed on many, 
takes the opportunity to observe in a note, as follows : — 

It need not excite surprise that such nonsense should gain 
currency among ignorant manufacturers, when intelligent and 
even scientific men often countenance the most absurd pre- 
tensions. I once saw the names of several respectable gentle- 
men, and, among the rest, that of a professor in one of our 
colleges, attached to a certificate in favour of a perpetual motion, 
which the inventor had the folly to exhibit. — [" The American 
Journal of Science and Arts," conducted by Benjamin Silli- 
man, M.D., LL.D., vol. 29, 1836, p. 262. 

* Dr. J. H. M. Poppe Die Wand, Stand und Tasclienuliren ; dei 
niechanismus, die Erhaltung, Keparatur, und StelJung der^elbeii ; Tas- 
chenbucli fur Urmacher^ Sic* Franklurt am Main, 1822, 12nio., p. 176^* 




As may be supposed, articles from the public press refer 
generally to announcements of the supposed practical solution 
of the problem ; and we have here an addition to the British 
and foreign claimants already cited. To these are added 
the views of Pasley, from his eccentric work on Natural 
Philosophy ; four unpublished schemes ; instances of impose 
ture; and the particulars of a Joint-stock Perpetual Motion 

"We shall commence this chapter with an apposite quotation 
from that ancient book of " Notes and Queries " — r" The 
Athenian Oracle," which inquires and replies as follows : — 

Quest. 5. Why may there not be invented a perpetua 
motion ? 

Answ. Archimedes, that indefatigable inquirer into mathe* 
matical speculation, having this question proposed unto him, 
viz., Whether he could move the globe of this world, he made 
this answer. That if the proposer could find another basis to 
fix the foot of his engine upon, he would undertake to 
remove it. In like manner, we say. Find us bodies or matter 
that are qualified for a perpetual motion, and we'll undertake 
the affirmative of the question. But if, upon a particular 
search of every individual particle of the creation, we find 
nothing but what is subject to change— not by flux of time, 
for time destroys nothing, but by motion and antipathies in 
nature — ^then it follows that the impossibility of perpetual 
duration necessitates the impossibility of a perpetual motion,* 
^"The Athenian Mercury," No. 7, April, 1691.] 

• The History of the Athenian Society, for the resolving of a11 nice 
jtnd curious questions. Printed for James Dowley (1690-3), folio. 

Also, The Athenian Oracle, being an entire collection of all the valu- 
able questions and answers in the old Atheniau Mercuries. 3 vols., 8vo., 
I70h (See vol. l,p. 16.) 

408 PEBPSTUUM mobile; 

Alleged Discovery op Perpetual Motion by Lewie 
Bayne, and Account of John Spence's Invention ; from 
an Inverness paper. 

Wehavemucli pleasure in being enabled to announce to the 
public that Mr. Lewis Bayne, officer of excise, in. this place, 
two years ago constructed a perpetually-moving time-piecey 
which, we are informed, measures time with the greatest 
exactness. This machine is kept in motion by means of 
magnetic attraction; but in the construction of it Mr. Bayne 
makes use of but one magnet. It is only about six months 
since this ingenious time-piece was shewn to us ; but there 
are several inhabitants of this place who have seen it going 
these two years past. The inventor has often been requested 
to announce his invention to the public, but it is only now 
that he has consented to do so. He is about to construct 
one on a small scale, to stand on a table or chimney-piece. 
The principle upon which this machine is constructed is 
very simple, and the expense at which it could be made, we 
think, would be considerably less than that of an ordinary 
clock. It is but fair to state that, in the pursuit of his 
mechanical inventions, Mr. Bayne found it both expensive 
and troublesome to procure the brass wheel, &c., of which 
he stood in need. He therefore, a considerable time ago, 
set himself to make a machire for cutting his own wheels, 
and succeeded in this also. In the ' ^ Edinburgh Magazine " 
for May, 1818, we have an account of the invention of a 
perpetual motion, by John Spence,* of Linlithgow, by means 
of two magnets. But independently of Mr. Bayne's inven- 
tion being first in point of time (for we have no reason to 
believe that the invention of the ingenious mechanic of 
Linlithgow is a twelvemonth old), it is certainly also first in 
point of importance. 

The invention of John Spence consists merely of a 
wooden beam, poised by the centre, which ha6 a piece of 
steel attached to one end of it, that is alternately drawn up 
by a magnet placed above it, and down by another placed 
below it. As the end of the beam approaches the magnet, 
hither above or below, the machine interjects a non-conduct- 
ing substance, which suspends the attraction of the magnet 

* See also pages 180 and 226. 


approached, and allows the other to exert its powers. Thus 
the end of the beam continually ascends and descends 
betwixt the two magnets, without ever coming into contact 
with either ; the attractive power of each being suspended 
precisely at the moment of nearest approach. — [j'The 
Kaleidoscope." Liverpool, Nov., 1818. Vol. 1, p. 67-] 

John Dallino's Perpetual Motion. — The following 
letter on this subject has been addressed to the Editor of 
the '* Dumfries and Glasgow Courier :"— 

Sir, — Having been informed that the Board of Longitude 
has offered a great reward to any person who should pro- 
duce a machine so constructed as to preserve a perpetual 
motion without the aid of weight or spring, and bemg 
stimulated by the hope of such reward, I set my invention 
to work, and have now discovered one which, I hope, will 
meet with approbation. It will revolve without the aid of 
wind, water, weight, steam, spring, lever, or attraction. It 
will keep uniform motion as long as the materials of which 
it is made will last, which may be of wood, or any metal. It 
wiU revolve vertically, horizontally, or at any angle of 
inclination. It is the same on water as on land. The 
motion of a ship makes no variation upon it, neither is it 
affected by heat or cold. Its principle may be applied to a 
watch or clock, and made to drive any sort of machinery. 
It is not dependent upon any power yet known to the 
world, and its principle is as en(fl.ess as the periphery of a 
circle. The above are a few, but a very few, of the qualities 
of which it is possessed, and of the uses to which it may be 
applied ; and I trust its own intrinsic worth, when known, 
will be sufficient to advocate its cause. I have no patron 
to introduce me to public notice, but propose humbly to lay 
my claim at the feet of his Eoyal Highness the Duke of 
Clarence, who presides at the Honourable Board of Lon^- 
tude ; and, if it is foimd by them to possess the requisite 
qualities for nautical purposes, superior to anything of 
which they are at present in possession, I think I may rely 
on their justice and liberality for a suitable recompense. 
When my secret is brought to light, it will astonish the 
most learned of the present day. It will elevate the honour 

410. PEKPETUUM mobile; 

of tliis country, and will incalculably augment its wealth 
and resources. By giving the above a place in your patriotic 
paper, you wiU oblige, Sir, your obedient humble servant, 
John Balling, Joiner, Castle Douglas. — [" The Liverpool 
Mercury," October, 1813, vol. 3, p. 134.] 

Wager in beference to Redhceffeb's Perpetttal 
Motion, alleged to be an Imposture.* — The following 
wager appears in the "Philadelphia Gazette :" — 

I hereby offer, on demand, any bet or bets jfrom 6,000 to 
100,000 doUars, to the end of proving, in a few days, both 
by mathematical data and three several experiments, to the 
satisfaction of enlightened judges, chosen by my very 
opponents out of the most respectable gentlemen of this 
city, or of New York, that Mr. Redhoeffer's discovery is 
genuine, and that it is incontestibly such a perpetual 
self-moving principle as the one alluded to by Sir Isaac 
Newton, in his **Principia Mathematica,'* b. 1, sec. 13, 
on the Laws of Motion. 

N.B. This is to be valid until the 15th inst., at sun- 

Charles Gobert, Civil Engineer, &c. Philadelphia, July 
12th, 1813.— ['* The Liverpool Mercury," October, 1813, 
vol. 3, p. 134.]' 

Mannardet's Perpetual Motion. — A French mechanic 
at Neufchatel, named Mannardot, is said to have discovered 
the perpetuum mobile. It consists of a wheel, on the peri- 
phery of which are small pipes half filled with quicksilver, 
wliich, at the top, have a centrifugal direction, and by a 
simple contrivance receive below an opposite impulse. He 
shows the machine publicly, and intends to submit the 
solution of this difficult problem to a further examination 
at Paris. The simplicity of the construction occasions a 
favourable opinion of the thing. — [** The Liverpool Mer- 
cury," October, I8l5, vol. 5, p. 110.] 

Gartiar's Perpetu^vl Motion. — A. M. Raymond Yin- 
ijent Ignan Garhar, of Frankfort, it is pretended, has 

* See statement made at page 222. 


invented a wheel, the movement of which is perpetual and 
spontaneous. The Emperor of Austria has granted him an 
exclusive privilege for fifteen years, if within a year he 
brings his invention into use. — ["The Liverpool Mercury," 
May, 1816, voL 5, p. 358.] 

Gteyser's Perpetual Motion.* — M. M. Geyser, canton of 
Berne, Switzerland, residing at La Chaux-de-Fonds, has 
exhibited to the Grenevese Society for the Advancement of 
Arts, a wheel which seems to turn of itself, and of which 
the most skilful artists cannot discover the moving principle, 
which the artist keeps a secret. The Society admire the 
execution of the machine, and acknowledge that the effect 
is very striking. Probably it is on a principle already 
announced, which applies, as a moving power, the elasticity 
of the atmospheric air to an exhausted cavity which is made 
to turn out of the centre of the mass by uniform pressure. 
— ["The Liverpool Mercury," October, 1816, vol. 6, p. 107.] 

Ax Advertised Perpetual Motion. — The following 
tjurious advertisement is from a late ** Dublin Evening 
Post." Whatever ingenuity may be in the mechanical part 
of the invention, we are particularly struck with the 
modesty of the projector, in contenting himself with bo 
moderate a payment in advance : — 

Perpetual Motion. — Take notice, that I will exhibit, 
after six days' notice, for the sum of £300,000, that long- 
wished-for perpetual motion, now going in its rapid velo- 
city, without the aid or assistance of man or beast, springs, 
weights, or balances, steam, wind, or water, or any other 
visible assistance, and will continue in its rapid velocity as 
long as a body of any substance lasts. 

Let the reader not doubt my undertaking, as I will 
undergo any penalty requested of me to exhibit an art 
which no second mortal can effect by study or ingenuiiy. 
Now, all gentlemen who study the merit and honour of 

* Declared an imposition, see page 183, and end of this chapter. 

412 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

their country, let them appeal to me, and I will, for the 
above sum, exhibit an art that will be a honour to Ireland 
until the expiration of time. 

An art that had heretofore defeated the great Sir Isaae 
Newton, after many years' study ; likewise the known world. 
This art I have effected at my first trial of it, on a small 
scale, with a few minutes' study and three hours* labour. 

An art that no second mortal can effect, I now challenge 
the known world ; I dare their study or ingenuity to execute 
what I have done. Should this undertaking be left un- 
noticed, I will sell its merits to another country. — [" The 
Liverpool Mercury," August, 1817, vol. 7, p. 62.] 

Alleged Discoveby of Perpetual Motion. — ^What a 
proud day for the. ** Mercury" to have to announce the 
discovery of the perpetual motion, which has baffled so many 
wiseacres and ruined so many speculative mechanists. 
"What a credit to the country, too, that this '* consumma- 
tion, so devoutly to be wished for," should have proceeded 
from an inhabitant of Toxteth Park. The modesty of the 
projector is only surpassed by his genius, or he would never 
have concealed his name from a wondering and an enquiring 
world. The following bulletin, on this great occasion, is 
given verbatim et literatim as we received it from the 
author: — "Gentlemen Please to Publish in Your paper 
that I Can produce an instrument that wiU Give true time 
by Real Perpetual Motion it is no use for Me to praise My 
Works for the Works and Move Movements wiU prove and 
praise them Selves and the Latitude Can be found out by 

the same instrument — ^it is found out by J. .n A n a 

Resident in in Toxteth Park Near St. James."— [" The 
Liverpool Mercury," October, 1817, vol. 7, p. 120.] 

Perpetual Motion by a Mechanic at Newcastle. — ^An 
ingenious mechanic, of Newcastle, has discovered a new 
and simple power, which he conceives involves the desidera- 
tum of perpetual motion, and which he purposes laying 
before tiie proper authorities appointed by Government. — 
["The Liverpool Mercury," 1821, vol. 10, p. 382.] 


A FiCTiTioTTs Perpetual Motion. — ^A correspondent, 
addressing the "Liverpool Mercury," says : — 

The model now exhibiting in Lord- street, as a perpetual 
motion working by the "power of gravity," was, during 
the last spring, offered io the inhabitants of the metropolis, 
when, being detected by a celebrated American engineer, 
who had seen several of the kind in Philadelphia, some 
gentlemen posted a large placard at the door of the exhibi- 
tion, cautioning the public against imposition, which soon 
induced the proprietor to decamp to places whose inhabit- 
ants he conceived more likely to* be imposed on by his 
" powers of gravity." 

Several of these articles have been prepared in America, 
the whole of which act by means of a concealed spring, 
either in the horizontal wheel itself, in the pedestal of the 
model, or by a helical one in either of the pillars. In the 
two latter modes of arranging it, the motion is communi- 
cated by means of a small watch wheel, concealed in the 
clumsy brass bridge through which the lower pivot of the 
upright shaft works, with its point resting upon a plate of 

I trust this communication may prevent the good people 
of Liverpool from being duped by one of the most glaring 
absurdities I ever witnessed.-r-[" The Liverpool Mercury," 
August, 1822, vol. 12, p. 46.] 

The Editor next week remarks on this Perpetual Motion : 
We have to state that the manager of the wonderful per- 
petual motion decamped immediately after the appearance 
of the " Mercury " in which his trick was exposed. 

Presumed Discovery of Perpetual Motion. — ^A corre- 
spondent, writing from Ormskirk, April, 1828, says: — 

An ingenious neighbour of mine has been exercising his 
wits to find out the perpetual motion. He does not pretend 
. to have achieved so great a desideratum, but he says he 
has found out a motion that will continue in action, or to 
move, as long as the material of which it is composed wiU 

414 PERPETUUM mobile; , 

endure. It is applicable to watches, lathes, engines — steam 
engines, I had nearly said ; but there will be no occasion 
for steam or gas either. Not being a mechanic myself, I 
find it a very diflB.cult matter to state the man's ideas, and 
make them plain to the reader. He says he has mentioned 
the thing to several curious men, and even showed it in its 
rude state to many neighbours. They all agreed that it 
was a great discovery, and that it ought to be made public ; 
but, though most of them are men of talent, they are not 
in the habit of writing for newspapers. It was, at last, 
agreed that he had better apply to your humble correspon- 
dent, who would, at all events, do something by describing 
his excellent invention, and thereby bring to his aid all the 
lovers of mechanism. His object is not money : he wishes 
to do something for the benefit of his fellow-men. He is 
an honest, industrious man, but he wants the means to put 
his machine in such order, perfection, &c., that it may 
easily be understood by the public. He says that, if any 
society or individual will enable him to put his discovery 
into a tangible shape, he will gladly share the profits with 
them, or throw the whole concern into their hands. — [** The 
Liverpool Mercury," April, 1828, vol. 18, p. 107.] 

Alleged Discovery of Perpetual Motion by M. Van- 
dyke. — This long-sought-for discovery, it is said, has been 
brought to light by Mr. Vandyke, of Orleans county. The 
machine is so constructed, by means of tubes, as to produce 
a current of air that propels a wheel, and keeps it in con- 
tinual motion. It is said that it may be converted to many 
valuable purposes. — American Faper, — [**The Liverpool 
Mercury,** July, 1829, vol. 19, p. 222.] 

Richards' Endless Power Engine. — An engineer of 
Bristol, named Richards, living in that city, has, after fifteen 
years* study and labour, completed a machine, which he calls 
his " Endless Power Machine," which is now in motion. This 
engine, it is said, will supersede the use of steam in all its 
various purposes. The inventor declares that his self-acting 
engine of 250 horso power will take a vessel round the world 


with the small quantity of two gallons of oil applied to its 
movements when required. — Bath Herald,— ['' The Observer/' 
London, Jidy, 1831.] 

M. DE Vignbrnon's New Mechanical Power; and 
English claim to the same. — -In a letter addressed to the Editor 
of the " Morning Advertiser," inserted Dec. 5, 1851, the 
writer says : — 

Will you have the goodness to do the reputation of England 
a piece of justice, which the " Times" (newspaper), never pos- 
sessed of a particle of public spirit, omits to do. 

Some few days ago that paper quoted from the " Courrier 
de la Garonne '* a paragraph stating that a French engineer of 
Bordeaux, named De Vignernon, had obtained " from a quan- 
tity of water at rest, and confined in a cenain space, a per- 
petual power that will supply the place of all other moving 

Now this was vague enough to the general reader, but the 
writer of this letter detected at once the identity of this French 
discovery with one he himself had submitted to the late Sir 
Robert Peel, and which will come before the public as soon as 
it can make an appearance suitable to its importance ; where- 
fore, complying with the conditions laid down for corres- 
pondents, but concealing his name from the public (therefore 
evidently aiming at nothing more than he professed, viz., to 
reserve a claim on behalf of this country), he solicited the in- 
sertion of a letter confirming the statement of De Vignernon 
(however improbable it may appear), but contending, if such 
a thing had been done by this gentleman, it had previously 
been done by an Englishman ; and predicting the time not far 
off, when the beautiful and costly steam engines would be re- 
duced to the value of old metal. 

But, as if to make good the charge of the " Edinburgh 
Review," that though the " Times" would go in any direction 
and to any lengths with the masses, it never lent a helping 
hand to any individual, however situated, my missive, self- 
denying as it was, could not find entrance. In a few months 
it may be important^ in claiming our share of the merit of the 
discovery, to have this letter in your columns to refer to. — ^I 
remain, respectfully yours, J. \V. P. 

Walcot Place West, Lambeth, Dec. 3, 1851. 

416 PSKPETUUM mobile; 

Stannabd's Perpetual Motion Machine. — ^\Ve have 
just been given to understand that an artisan in very 
humble circumstances, residing in Ipswich, has, after three 
years' labour, succeeded in constructing a model ot a macliine, 
15 inches by 13, and 11 J deep, which is self-acting, after being 
put in motion by a screw. It is powerful enough to turn a 
grindstone against the power of one person who had an iron 
l»ar on the stone. It has kept in motion upwards of 36 hours, 
at the end of which time the speed was not diminished ; and 
the constructor, whose name is Thomas Stannard, contends that 
the machine will keep in motion as long as the materials will 
last. The invention was offered to several firms in Ipswich, 
who declined taking it up, since which three persons belonging 
to one of the first firms of engineers in London have visited 
Ipswich, and examined the machine, and have been induced to 
pay the inventor liberally, aud have taken the machine and the 
inventor to London to prosecute inquiry, — [" Ipswich Elxpress." 

Alleged Discovery op a Self-moving Machine bt 
Joseph Hutt. — A correspondent in the " Leicester Mercury" 
writes^as follows : — 

A poor framework-knitter, named Joseph Hutt, now living 
near the Church, Hinckley, has, after twenty years' application 
and study, completed a machine, which he calls a " selt-moving 
machine," or perpetual motion ; and he is very confident of its 
being fully entitled to the term "perpetual;" and, also, that 
its power may be increased almost to any extent. From his 
own account and description of the machine, it appears that 
he set it in motion on the 26th of August last, since which 
time it has continued to work exceedingly well, and with the 
greatest ease and regularity ; and that it is so constructed as to 
bid fair to become one of the most useful inventions that has 
hitherto been discovered. Its motions are both quick and 
powerful, and may be applied to anything to which mechanics 
may think well to apply it*. It does not require the aid 
of steam or any other power to keep it in motion, having 
one continued and regular movement of its own. Its bearing 
arm wants no repose, and it will continue as long as the 
materials it is made of. The simplicity of the machine 


18 such that the inventor is afraid to allow any person to see it. 
He is desirous of bringing it out in a more finished style, but 
this he cannot accomplish under £20, which sum he is too poor 
to raise.— [" The Mining Journal," vol. 17, 184:7, p. 532.] 

In relation to the same, we read in the ** Builder," June, 
1847, that— 

This vain delusion, if not still in foree, is at least as 
standing a fallacy as ever. Joseph Hutt, a framework- 
knitter, in the neighbourhood of the enlightened town of 
Hinckley, professes to have discovered it, and only wants 
£20, as usual, to set it agoing. 

Is Perpetual MoTtON at last Discovered ? — ^An intelli- 
gent friend, in whom we have confidence, writes to us 
gravely from Lille, to state that a mechanic there, after 
thirteen years' effort, has positively obtained the means of 
perpetual motion. Parties have formed themselves into a 
company to bring the discovery before the puJblic, and on 
Tuesday (8th August) in last week, a meeting of these, 
including some engineers connected with mines, was held 
to witness the machine in operation, and the only objection 
made, according to our informant, was, that it was not 
applicable to navigation; but this the inventor denies, 
maintaining its applicability to all purposes. The present 
machine is of wood, but it is decided to make one of iron. 
We need scarcely say that we are not believers in perpetual 
motion, having the word ** friction" floating in our mind, 
and we have often cautioned correspondents against being 
led into so dangerous and difOLcult a chase ; but in this case 
the circumstances are put before us by so careful a mind 
that we are bound to wait rather than to scoff. A belief 
prevails that the British Q-ovemment some time since offered 
an enormous premium for the discovery of this power, but 
we are disposed, after inquiry, to consider this belief erro- 
neous.— [** The Builer," August, 1848, vol. 6, p. 406.] 

Perpetual Motion.— In detailing the steps which led to 
the formation of his theory of motion, Mr. Pasley (of 
Jersey) says in his Preface : — 

For a number of years the discovery of a perpetual 


PEBPETUUM mobile; 

motion occupied my thoughts, and at every mechanical 
device I could imagine my leisure hours were employed. 
The pursuit brought me acquainted with my own errors. 
Nothing disheartened by numerous failures, I gave up all 
idea of employing mechanical means, but looked to the 
planets in search of the cause of these bodies performing 
perpetual motion ; and being convinced that self-motion of 
a mass of inert matter is an absurdity, it appeared to me a 
matter of certainty that planets must be involved in a medium 
on the pressure of which their motions depend. * * 

It is almost needless to mention, I felt ambitious to be the 
discoverer of the cause of motion, if not capable of effecting a 
perpetual motion ; still, by experience taught, I may be blind 
to some fundamental mistake which I am incapable of dis- 

Eaton's Perpetual Syphon. — ^This is a plan proposed 

• A Theory of Natural Philosophy, on mechanical principles, dirested 
of all immaterial chemical properties, showing for the first time the 

physical cause of continuous motion. By T. H. Pasley. 8vo. 
London, 1836. 




by Mr. Eaton, in 1850, and consists in providing two water 
cisterns A, B ; the short leg of a syphon enters the upper 
cistern, and terminates in three escape pipes, capable of being 
rotated by the pulley a, connected by a band with the ptilley 
6, affixed to the vertical shaft c, rotated by the inverted 
Barker's mill D, constructed on the short leg of the inverted 
syphon E, supplied from the bottom of the upper water 
cistern. By this means it was expected to keep up a con- 
tinual flow down the pipes C and up E, as shown by the 

Legge's Hydro-Pneumatio Power. — ^Mr. Legge gives 
the annexed sketch of an invention, the result of fourteen 
years' study. It is a dome-shaped vessel ; its upper part 
A filled witii air, and the lower half with water, as at B. 

This vessel contains two apparatus for returning the water 
which is worked through C D, apparently like pump barrels. 
The air is to be at from 250 to 500 pounds' pressure on the 
square inch. When once started it wlQ (it is stated) go on 
as long as it is oUed. The inventor estimates a one thirty- 
second share at one thousand pounds value. 

Foster's Wheel of Inclined Planes. — ^Messrs. Spon 
have communicated, by a large drawing, the plan of Mr. 
Foster, of New York, for producing perpetual motion by a 




series of inclined planes set round tlie peripheiy of a wheel, 
each incline having a roller retained on its surface by two 
side rods, each pair connected at one end to the rollers, and 
at their other ends to the sides of the wheel, by means of 
pins, allowing them free rolling motion. It was expected 
that on turning the wheel in a direction to carry the rolling 
weights down an incline on the central horizontal line, and 
consequently farthest from the centre of rotation, the other 
inclined planes would follow in succession, and deliver their 
rolling weights in like manner. But innumerable trials 
proved, after a large outlay of money, that gravitation was 
not to be overcome by any such means. An eminent 
engineer considered this method so feasible, that he devoted 
considerable time in practically testing the several model 
apparatus constructed by the equally or more sanguine 

t^RRi)JLTAL*s Patent Motive Power Com^ant. — The 
following particulars are taken from th6 prospectus of the 
above intended-to-be-formed company, for it most likely 
never went so far as to apply for its proposed "capital 
£1,500,000, in 3,000 shares of £60 each ; deposit £3 per 
share," notwithstanding the flattering expectancy held out 
that " we shall have £2,000,000 annual profit.'* 

The prospectus, consisting of four folio pages, is curious 
enough to deserve being copied entire, but the following ex- 
tracts must here suffice : — • 

Importance and Advantages of the MotiVe Power.*— The 
following considerations are sufficient to prove to the share- 
holders that a large benefit may be realized. 

There are, in the united Kingdom, about 20,000 Steam 
JEngines, of a mean power of 50 horses* The 'advantages of 
this motive power> in .comparison with the steam engine, are 
so plain and enormous, that there is no doubt that it will be 
applied at least to all the existing steam engineSj without con- 
sidering the newly-constructed ones ; and supposing only £2 
for each horse power every year, for the licence, or for the 
profit of construction, we shall have £2,000,000 of annual 

This invention will open a new epoch of prosperity for the 

{Fig. No. 1.) 



English constructors, seeing that the accuracy with' which the 
.machine requires to be constructed will oblige foreign nations 
to send their orders to England. The low price of transport 
will encourage the export of coal to foreign countries, with the 
other productions of tljie kingdom, and will produce a new 
source of riches to the nation. 

This invention is worthy of the patronage of all persons, 
and all departments of the Government, considering its 
economy and security. 

Specification of the Patent * (Sealed 1833. No. 6510.) 
— The invention is an attempt to obtain a rotatory motion from 
a hollow drum or cylinder, mounted on an axle, turning in 
bearings in an outer air-and-water-tight case; the space 
between the case and the drum being divided in a vertical 
direction by an air-and-water-tight partition, into two com^ 
partments ; one is filled with a fluid, and a vacuum is produced 
in the other by a pump, or by the adhesion of the surface of 
the half air-tight case upon the half drum, when it is expected 
that the tendency of the part of the drum which is in the 
liquid chamber will rise by its buoyancy, and the inclination 
of the other part, or that in the vacuum, will fall by its gra- 
vity, and will produce a rotatory motion as long as the vacuuni 
is kept up in one chamber and the liquid is in the other. 

The surface of the drum, in cast-iron, should be perfectly 
smooth ; and the plates of the air-tight case upon the half 
drum should be in gun-metal, perfectly smooth ; and by a 
friction with mercury the surface will be covered by it, and 
will destroy the adhesion of the metal upon the surface of 
the drum. 

The general claim is, " A machine acting by a joint power 
derived from the buoyancy of a body in fluids, aiiid the weight 
of a body in vacuum." 

When the parts are put together, they are secured by screws, 
the joints being made air-tight. 

Fig. No. 1,— *is a side view of an Engine constructed on 
the principle of this Invention, with the outer cover being 
removed to expose its internal construction. 

Experiment made without expense, by every person, to 
ascertain the efficacy of this Motive Power. — Put in a vertical 

♦ See Chapter XI., under date 1833, No. 6510, 


direction into the water, the half drum in wood (A B C, Fig. 1) 
until it is surrounded; and taking it easily in the fingers, it 
will turn round according to the pointed line A E. 

Take easily in the fingers the other half drum (Fig. 2), and 
in a vertical direction, according to the letters F G H, hold 
it in the air, and it will fall by gravitation according to the 
line HI. 

The force with which the No. 1 will rise is equal to the 
difference between the body of the half drum and the body 
of the volume of water displaced, — ^minus the friction of the 
axis in the fingers, and the friction of the liquid upon the 
surface of the half drum. 

The force with which the half drum (No. 2) will fall is 
equal to the difference between the body of the half drum 
and the body of the air displaced, — minus the friction of the 
axis in the fingers, and the friction of the air upon its surface. 

All this is practical ; and it is plain that it will turn upon 
every scale. This experiment proves that the force with which 
the two half drums move is more than the friction of the axis 
against the fingers, and the friction of the liquid against the 
surfaces of the drum. 

By the practical construction of steam engines, I prove, 
in the following numerical report, that the friction to prevent 
the fluids going into the vacuum chamber, or into the plates 
at air-tight upon the half drum, is less than the motive power ; 
and that there remains sufficient to produce a disposable 
force. For instance, it must be considered that upon a small 
scale a little difference in the construction will destroy the 
motive power, but that will not be the case upon a large 
scale, because a great power will easily destroy too hard a 

Numerical Illustration, applied to a Machine in which the 
diameter of the drum is 6 feet, and the length 2 feet. — 
Hydrostatic Laws : " Fluids press in proportion to the height 
of their levels, in every direction ; but the greatest pressure 
is that from the bottom to the top of the vessel. When a 
body is entirely, or in part only, immersed in a fluid, the 
horizontal pressures exercised by the fluid upon its surfaces 
are mutually destroyed. The result of all the vertical pres- 
sures is equal to the weight of the fluid displaced, and 
directed in opposition to the gravitation, applied to the centre 
of gravity, of that portion of the fluid displaced ; and the 


body loses a part of its weight equal to the absolute weight 
of that portion of fluid displaced." — (See the above indispu- 
table practical principles in Hydrostatics and Mechanics, by 

After a variety of calculations and statistics, we are in- 
formed, in the concluding observations of this lengthy pro- 
spectus, that — 

This motive power is applied also to the steam engines 
existing ; we want only to take out the boiler and the pistons. 
We need scarcely say that we can obtain any number of horse 
power, and that, by its simplicity, this motive power can be 
applied to all things wanting force. 

Every person laughs at what is called " perpetual motion," 
but a very small number know what that expression signifies. 
D'Alembert's Encyclopaedia, at the word " Perpetual," says, 
" Perpetual Motion is a machine working by itself, without 
any external force, and only by gravitation of matter." At 
the first sight, it is plain that by the gravitation we shall only 
obtain a movelnent for a limited time ; after which the equili- 
brium will succeed : but it must be considered, that in the 
above system there are two forces — one is gravitation, the 
other is the impetus with which every fluid has a tendency to 
raise the body surroimded by it in a direction opposite to the 
gravitation. This tendency is continuous in every fluid ; con- 
sequently, in this machine the property of the motive power is 
continuous ; but not the machine, which requires the plates to 
be repaired every three years. If anybody was to ask me 
to show them a machine at work, I should answer — The globe 
is one ; — the earth turning by this system, half only being 
surrounded by water : and in general, all planets turning upon 
their axes are surrounded in part by fluids ; the moon not 
turning upon its axis, because it is deprived of fluids. 

The engineers' constructors possess and know the construc- 
tion of a smooth plate, and a piston in a cylinder ; these are 
all the pieces necessary for the working of the machine. The 
complement to go more or less quickly, or to stop, is the same 
as that employed in steam engines, according to the circum- 
stances and the application. 

428 PXBPXTUVM mobile; 



Under the Patent Laws previous to October, 1852, at ^bich 
period the present amended law came into operation, the cost 
of a patent for the United Kingdom was little short of £300. 
The new law provides for obtaining patents progressively 
both in respect to time and payment ; that is, protection for 
six months, on depositing a provisional brief outline specifica- 
tion, extensible, at the option of the patentee, to three, four, 
and seven years, making a total of fourteen years, as hereto- 
fore, and the fees at each stage being very moderate. The 
facilities thus offered by the present system occasion the 
patenting of a large amount of frivolous and crude schemes, 
entered on without investigation as to former claimants or the 
merits of the supposed novel inventions. This accounts for 
the immense number of subjects patented of late years, which 
never proceed beyond six months' protection. 

A few early patents were granted on the mere title, un- 
accompanied by any description, as noticed in Chapter III. 
In later patents it was only required, and so continued to be 
to the end of September, 1852, to file a specification of the 
invention sought to be protected, before the six months 
expire, until which was d«ne, the invention was only known 
by its title ; and if not filed, as required, the patent in conse- 
quence lapsed. But under the existing law, a brief or pro- 
visional specification, ascertaining the nature of the inyention, 


mast be put in on making the first application, otherwise no 
protection is granted ; and before six months expire, a com- 
plete specification has to be lodged, fully detailing the inven- 
tion. Instances of all these cases (except void patents) will 
occur in the folio winjr Catalogue Raisonne, that is — 1. Patents 
granted on the mere titV. 2. Others not specified, and there- 
fore void. 3. Such as have not gone beyond provisional or 
six months' protection. And 4. Those fully specified.* 

Patents of the seveftteenth and eighteenth centuries have 
been given in Chapter III., to which one patent for 1801 was 
transferred from the present period, to be there associated 
with critical notices from contemporary scientific journals. 
The patents here enumerated may be said to have fallen dead 
bom, having excited no notice or attention in scientific 
circles. All interest in them has been confined (with one 
exception) to the inventors themselves, who, though they 
have laboured seriously and sedulously, have elicited no new 
fact. The display their efibrts make in the following pages 
is anything but flattering to their knowledge, ingenuity, or 
practical skill. Nothing can be more disheartening than 
such a scene of wreck and blighted hopes ; and the sad pic- 
ture should prove a salutary warning to all adventurers 
setting out on this shoreless ocean of enterprise. 

1809.— William Pleasants [No. 3226], of Abbey Street, 
Dublin, Bachelor of Arts. ** A self-mover, or machine which 
can keep itself in motion." He says: — "My invention con- 
sists in causing water to ascend through inclined pipes in 
consequence of the centrifugal force communicated to it by 
the whirling of the vessel (partly filled with water) whereinto 
these pipes are inserted, which whirling motion is occasioned 
by the same fluid in its descent turning a wheel on the axle 

* It may he useful to mention here that printed copies of all specifica- 
tions can he ohtained at exceedingly moderate charges, at the Great Seal 
Patent Office ; all that is required heing to name the date and accompany- 
iivg number^ each of which is given throughout this and the Ibimer list 

430 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

which passes up through and is fixed to that vessel." This is 
the old story, and as there is nothing remarkable in the 
apparatus it need not be farther described. 

1814. — Henby Julius Winteb [No. 3861], of Dover, 
Kent, Confectioner. ** A method of giving eflfect to various 
operative processes." 

I construct a set of water-wheels, overshot, breast wheels, 
or other wheels, of such construction as that the whole or 
nearly the whole of the charge of water suitable for giving 
motion shall be employed in so doing. And I place the 
wheels of the set or series in such positions with respect to 
each other as that one of the wheels shall be worked by water, 
conveyed thereon ; and that the second wheel of the series, 
shall be worked by the very same water, which I do for that 
purpose immediately convey from the tail of the first wheel 
unto the head or upper working part of the second wheel ; 
and moreover, that another, or the third wheel of the series (if 
consisting of more than two wheels), shall be worked by the 
very same water, which I do for that purpose immediately 
convey from the tail of the second wheel unto the upper 
working part of the third wheel ; and I do in this manner 
proceed by conveying the very same water from wheel to 
wheel, however numerous the set may be. And I cause the 
water to be received into a cistern. And I do infer, that the 
force of rotation by the said means produced in all the said 
wheels, or that the sum total of the rotatory force in all the 
said wheels, will be more than sufficient to raise to the first 
level the whole or as much as the whole of the water so em- 
ployed in working the said wheels ; and that I do accordingly, 
by the connexion and adaptation of a pump or pumps, or 
other fit hydraulic engine, with or unto the said wheels, raise 
again the said water, or an equal quantity, and do employ the 
water so raised in communicating and maintaining the rotatory 
force of the said set or series of wheels, as before shewn ; 
and that I do, by other communications from the said wheels, 
give effect to such various operative processes as require ma.- 
chinery to be moved by employing the excess of the rotatory 
force for this last purpose, which shall be over and above 



what would be adequate to raise and return the water as afore- 
said. And lastly, I do declare that the power or force so to 
be generated will not cease to be augmented unless employed, 
count poised, or stopped, by some force extrinsic, and pro- 
ceeding from some other source or cause (except the wear and 
decay of materials) than any which would exist in the set or 
series of water-wheels combined together and worked as 
aforesaid « 

1819.— Robert Copland [No. 4364], of Liverpool, 
Merchant. " A new or improved method or methods of 
gaining power by new or improved combinations of apparatus, 
applicable to various purposes." 

Figure 1 is a view of a machine by which I purpose to 
derive a disposable force or power from the action, weight, or 
pressure of the atmosphere, 
through the medium of the 
column of water or other heavy 
liquid descending on one side 
of the enclosed vertical wheel, 
and from thence through the 
centrifugal wheel, being re- 
turned into the same reser- 
voir, from which the pressure 
of the atmosphere raises it to 
be again delivered on the top 
of the vertical wheel to sup- 
ply the discharge on the de- 
scending side, arising from 
the centrifugal force com- 
municated to it by the rotatory velocity of the centrifugal 
wheel, and the pressure of the descending column over- 
balancing the re-action or resistance of the atmosphere at 
the discharging apertures of the centrifugal wheel. Thus a 
small quantity of water or other liquid (according to the size 
of the machine required) being continually returned on to 
the top of the vertical wheel by the pressure or action of the 
atmosphere, and acting by its unbalanced gravity or impetus 
in its descent, will produce a disposable force or power of any 
required magnitude^ by increasing the size or number of the 


roacbines, provided the height the fluid is required to be raised 
is not quite so high as the column which the atmosphere when 
lightest will raise of that fluid, and allowing for the requisite 
velocity on to the vertical wheel. In Figure 1, A is the 
feeding pipe through which the fluid is raised by the pressure 
or action of the atmosphere on the fluid in the lowest reser- 
voir, in which the lower end of the pipe is immersed, closed 
by a cock, sliding plate, valve, or shutter, to allow the 
machine to be filled at the commencement, and which may be 
under the surface of the fluid, also to keep it air-tight. The 
other end is inserted air-tight into the top reservoir, or by a 
curve, as shewn by the dotted line a, joined to pipe C, and 
delivering upon the vertical wheel, without any top reservoir. 
In this case, if water is used, the highest pa-t of the bend or 
curve inside should not exceed thirty feet above the level of 
the water in lowest reservoir. B is the top reservoir, the 
lowest internal part of which should never exceed twenty- 
nine or thirty feet above the water in lowest reservoir, but it 
will admit the top of the reservoir, if wished, to be rather 
higher than when the curved tube a only is used. It must 
be quite air-tight, and supported as convenient. C is a pipe, 
joined air-tight to top reservoir, or forming part of A, a, C. 
C is a moveable flap of strong leather, or other substance, 
which may be joined to the lowest part of C, where the water 
is delivered so high on the wheel, and where floats with binges 
are used on the wheel to prevent its going down on the as- 
cending side ; but not necessary when water is delivered lower 
on the wheel. D, D, D, D, is the fixed and immoveable 
waterway, and the fixed case or cover (of the vertical wheel), 
of which it is a part, joining also the stufiing boxes, through 
v\^hich the axle of the vertical wheel moves air-tight, thus 
entirely enclosing and surrounding every part of the wheel 
but the projections of the axle, and allowing the float boards 
and wheel just to turn freely in it without touching in any 
part except the axle in turning in the packing of the stafling 
boxes ; the float boards are fastened on to the rim or sole of 
the vertical wheel by very strong hinges or moveable joints 
just within the fixed waterway D. E is a pipe or pipes 
joined air-tight to the fixed cover or case enclosing the vertical 
wheel where the water is to be taken off" it, having their lower 
^ends inserted air-tight also into the bottom of the fixed and 


immoveable top of the centrifugal wbeei in such a direction 
that they may deliver the water into the moveable waterway 
of the centrifugal wheel as near as possible in the same 
direction as the water circulates in the wheel. F, F, is the 
centrifugal wheel, of any diameter convenient, according to the 
jize of the machine, placed horizontally above the fluid in the 
}owest reservoir, so as to move on its axis as near as possible 
to the sutface of the fluid without touching it, having an 
immoveable cover or top, leaving a hollow waterway round the 
rim, into which the fluid is discharged from E in the direction 
of the wheels' motion. G, G, are the discharging apertures 
of the centrifugal wheel. H, H, is the surface of the fluid in 
I, I, the lowest reservoir, containing a sufficient quantity of 
water, when the machine is put to work, to allow the bottom 
of feeding pipe A to be immersed in it at least two feet below 
the surface, or a greater depth may be given to that part of 
the reservoir under the mouth of pipe A, forming a sort of 
well in which A may be inserted any required depth, better to 
exclude any particles of air or bubbles mixed with the water 
nearer its surface from ascending in pipe A. This reservoir 
should be large enough to contain the whole of the water used 
before the machine is filled. K, K, are the ends of the axle 
of vertical wheel outside of the stuffing boxes of the fixed 
case, and are the only parts of the vertical wheel seen, and 
turning air-tight through the packing or stuffing boxes, or in 
any other manner the external air is entirely excluded from 
the vertical wheel when at work ; e is an air-tight cock to 
discharge the air out of the machine when filling. L is an 
aperture into top reservoir, or into highest part of pipe A, a, 
when no top reservoir, closed air-tight by a screw cap ; by 
this the whole machine is filled in every part with the fluid 
used before it can be set to work, the bottom of pipe A and 
apertures G (as well as cock to bottom of pipe E when 
required) being previously closed. P is part of the axle on 
which the centrifugal wheel revolves. Before the machine 
can be put to work, everything being previously arranged as 
directed, the apertures at G and bottom of A (and at E if 
required also), must be closed by sliding plates, valves, cocks^ 
or other methods, as most convenient, and every part of the 
machine must be filled with the water or fluid used by thd 
aperture L, or any other convenient method by which tht 

434 PEKPETUUM mobile; 

highest parts may be filled, the air allowed to discharge by 
opening E and O, the latter to be shut as soon as the centri- 
fugal wheel is filled, and the cock at E closed where required, 
when the water is above it a little, e continuing open, so as to 
allow the air to be entirely discharged from every part, which 
being done, and the machine entirely filled with water, this 
cock and aperture L must be carefully closed ; having then 
fixed upon the most convenient method for givin gthe re- 
quired assistance to set the machine to work, by giving the 
centrifugal wheel motion, and assisting it till arrived at the 
velocity fixed, it must be put in motion, and the apertures Gr 
opened ; after it has got a little into motion, and as soon as 
the velocity of the wheel has given a centrifugal force to the 
water sufficient to overbalance the slight difference in the height 
of the feeding and descending columns, the pipe A must be 
opened ; a discharge from the apertures G will now take 
place, which is supplied from top reservoir B over the loaded 
side of vertical wheel, where, by its gravity and impetus acting 
on the float boards, it causes the wheel to turn till it descends, 
so as to be discharged through E, on to the rim or waterway 
W, of the centrifugal wheel, which it strikes with the velocity 
of its descent in nearly the direction of the 'wheel's motion, 
and is discharged through aperture G into the water contained 
at commencement in lower reservoir I, from whence this dis- 
charge is again supplied by the pressure of the atmosphere, 
returning it through pipe A into top reservoir, or through a, 
C, and the part intended of the vertical wheel. As the velocity 
of the centrifugal wheel is accelerated, the velocity of the de- 
scending column over the vertical wheel will also be acceler- 
ated, and, consequently, the vertical wheels, when having 
arrived at their respective fixed velocities, the assisting force 
being no longer necessary, may be withdrawn, and the c^'n- 
trifugal wheel may now receive what assistance is required to 
support its velocity from the vertical wheel through the con- 
necting shafts and wheelwork, or in any other manner. 

1823.— Robert Copland [No. 4749], of Wilmington 
Square, Middlesex, Gentleman. '* Combinations of apparatus 
for gaining power, part of which are improvements ou a 


patent already obtained by bim for a new or improved metb^d 
or nietbods of gaining power by new or improved combina-r 
tions of apparatus applicable to various purposes/* 

He says; — ** Figures I and ? represent a doubl^ macbine 
with tbe connecting pipes or hollow tubes, in the parts of 
which most convenient for opening and shutting occasionally 
are placed cocks, valves, or slides, No. I to 8, and lower 
valves 11 and 12, or other substitutes for these, which may 
be shut or opened when required by any of tbe wellrknown 
methods, from the motion of the beams, or by tbe hand, or 
any other method. C 1 and C 2 are hollow iron cylinders of 
equal contents, connecting together at bottom, where valve 11 
opens or closes the communication ; they have close air-tight 
covers or tops, with stuffing boxes for the rods to pass 
through, and the pipes being connected by air-tigbt joints." 
We then hav* '* hollow cylinders, having pistons working in 
them ; pipes inserted through these bottoms ; an ope^ trough 
or waterway joined on the top of these cylinders ; four vessel? 
or weights moving freely in the four cylinders, suspended by 
rods passing through stuffing bo^es in the close tops ;** and 
so on throughout seven printed folio pages. "We haye here <jt 
large amount of complication and friction^ 

1836 Robert CoPi^AyD [No. 7216], of Wandsworth 

Boad, Surrey, Esquire, " Improvements upon patents 
already obtained by me for Qombinations of apparatus for 
gaining power/' The engine has a working beam and cylinr 
ders, like the preceding, but differently wofkjB4i without any 
appearance of being seif-movng. 

182J.— OeorgpLujtton [No. 4632], of Gloucester Street, 
Middlesex, Mechanist. ** A new niethod of impelling ma- 
chinery without the aid of steam, wind, air, or fire." 

My invention consists in a vertical wheel moving by 
gravity alone« such wheel being fixed on an axis, which is 
made to turn easily in gudgeons, and the periphery of which 
wheel is provided with levers so construiCted that by the mere 
revolution of the wheel they extend themselves to their 



PERPETUUM mobile; 

greatest length, and obtain their greatest actin<y power succes- 
sively as they arrive by the rotative motion of the wheel at 
that position where they become situated at the upper part of 
the lower quadrant of the descending side of the wheel, and 
in which last-mentioned position they charge themselves with 
a weight at that extremity farthest from the axis ; and which 
It vers also cease to act as levers the moment they have passed 
the lower part of the said quadrant, and being carried up in 
an inactive state with the ascending side of the wheel, discharge 
the weight when the said weight arrives at some point above 
the level of the axis ; and in causing the said wtight, and 
others so discharged, to return, hy gravity alone, to the situa- 
tion whence they were taken by the levers before-mentioned. 

I will here observe generally, that the principle of ray 
invention being applicable to a series of vertical wheels on one 
axis, as well as to a single vertical wheel, and a series of 
Vertical wheels being in my opinion preferable for the purpose 


of practically applying my invention, I have described the 
principles of my invention, as applying to such a series. 
Fig. 1 is an end view of a series of vertical wheels, one onljr 
being: seen, while the levers attached to the whole are visible. 
In Fig. 1, the lever A is represented in the act of falling from 
the periphery of the wheel into a right line. The lever is 
composed of a series of flat rods connected by ruler joints, 
which said ruler joints are provided vyith a stop or joggle to 
prevent their collapsing at any time more than will firing any 
one of the rods which compose the levers at a light angle with 
the rod next to it. This lever is attached to the periphery of 
the wheel by the hinge joint 5, bejng provided with the 
shoulder c, to prevent its falling into any other than a right 
line from the centre of the circumference of the wh/eeL The 
levers are furnished at their outer extremity with a bucket or 
receiver, the bottom of which is sufficiently broad to retain the 
ball G ; at A is a small roller to facilitate the delivery of the 
ball. The ball remains in the bucket till the lever comes 
into the position of the leyer F, when Js will roll out of the 
bucket on to the inclined plane, and by its own gravity roll 
to the balls at the other end of the inclined plane, ready to be 
again taken into a bucket. The stage which supports the i nr 
clined plane should not have any connection with the axis. 

[The intended operation of this wheel is too obyious tp r^r 
jquire further description.] 

1826. — Edward Jordan [No. 51i91], of Norwich, En- 
gineer. ** A new mode of obtaining power, applicable jto 
imachin^ry of different descriptions." 

This is a sin^rularly impracticable invention, yet the patentee 
daim« that it •*' consists in sinking or forcing down to aqy 
.convenient depth under water, buoyant vessels, by or wjlh a 
lever, and also in directing and conducting them when so 
immersed, so that they are alternately placed in a position 
to act upon parts, forming in effect a lengthened portion of the 
Jcver that depressed them, thereby obtaining by a new mode a 
power applicable to machinery.*' Two large drawings and 
seven printed folio page§ complete the specification. 

1827.— Sir William Congreve [No. 5461], of Cecil 


PE&PETUUM mobile: 

Street, London, Baronet. " A new motive power.** Enough 
has already been stated in respect to the inventions herein 
protected. (See Chapter IX.) 

1832. — Pierre Nicolas Hainsseltn [No. 6290], of 
Duke Street. St. James's, Middlesex, Architect and Engineer. 
" A machine or motive power for giving motion to machinery 
of different descriptions, to be called ' Hainsselin's Motive 

I do declare the nature of my said invention to consist in 
a machine, the nature of which depends on the descent of an 
endless series of reservoirs filled with water, which water is 
raised to a suitable elevation for the purpose, principally by the 
action of the machine itself. 


No. 1 represents a front view of the machine, and No. 2 a 
side view; similar letters of reference being used to denote 
MJmiiar parts. A is a large drum ; B, B, an endless series of 
reservoirs, or (as they would be called on a water wheel) 
buckets, each fastened by a hinge joint to the other, so as to 
form an endless chain, passiiig over the drum ; C is a cogged 
wheel, working into the pinion D ; and E is an eccentric, 
more particularly explained hereafter ; F is a fly wheel ; G, 
G, is a balance beam, carrying the segment of a circle at each 
end ; H is what I call an escapement for T, which is a pen- 
dulum; and I 2 is the weight of the pendulum; K, K, are 
two pumps; L is the main cylinder of the machine; M, an 
air pump; N, a pipe, through which the water which works 
the engine is raised ; O is a reservoir to receive the water from 
the descending buckets ; and P is a reservoir to receive the 
water from the pipe N ; and when it is required to make one of 
the said machines, the following details must be observed :— 
Suppose, for instance, it is required to make a machine on my 
plan, equal in power to a steam engine of which the expansive 
is equal to a resistance of 1,000 lbs. in a second. It will be 
seen that air and water are the two principal agents in me 
machine ; water, it is known, weighs fiom 60 to 62 lbs. thy 
cubic foot, and it requires 32 cubic feet of air to balance one 
cubic foot of water ; and I have found, by various experiments, 
that my machine employs about three-fourths of its power to 
produce it own action. From these premises it results that in 
order to have a machine on my plan equal to 1,000 lbs. per 
second, there must be 4,000 lbs. of vfater in the descending 
buckets,, and two hundred cubic feet of air condensed in the 
cylinder L, by means of the air pump M, which is worked by 
hand by the lever handle a. The drawing represents sixty-four 
buckets fastened together by hinge joints in such manner as to 
form an endless chain of buckets, their motion being so contrived 
that they descend^fuU at one side of the drum, and rise empty at 
the otherside, the drum being about three feet six inches in 
diameter ; twenty-five of these buckets can retain water in the 
same time; and in order that the united weights of their con- 
tents may be 4,000 lbs., it is necessary that each of the sixty^ 
four buckets shall be of a size (whatever be their form) con- 
veniently to hold 160 lbs. of water. In order to supply 
twenty-tive descending buckets with the required quantity of 

440 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

water, the two pumps K, K, are placed a little above the lower 
reservoir O ; the rods of these pumps plumb with the extremi- 
fies of the balance beam G^ G^ by which they are worked ; 
the capacity of each of these pumps should be such that each 
stroke of the piston should raise a column of water to the upper 
reservoir P^ sufficient for the supply of one bucket (ihat is to 
bay, 160 lbs.) ; these pumps, which may be called hydro-pneu- 
matic^ are nearly like ordinary lift pumps, the only ditference 
being that the pump chamber is divided into two parts b\ the divi- 
sion/i the upper part being furnished with the piston ol a force 
pump ; the same rod e works both the piston d ot the upper 
part of the pump chamber c and the valve /of the lower part 
of the chamber g. The pump rods e^ e, are tixed to a chain A, hi 
whfch is attached to the segments on the ends of the balance 
beam G, G, and thereby made to work the pump rods, while 
the balance weights e, t, below the extremities of these chains, 
keep them at a proper degree of tension, and keep the beam on 
a just balance. The strong cast-iron cylinder L must be 
capable of resisting the force of the condensed air which it is 
intended to contain, say, at least 240 lbs. The interior of this 
cylinder is furnished with a division/, by which an upper and 
lower chamber dre formed, marked k and L The lower chamber 
k is intended to receive the water which the pumps K, K, feed 
it with by means of the pipes m, m, at every stroke of their 
pistons, and in this cbamber the water frees itself from the air 
which may have been pumped in with it^ and whicb is suffered 
from time to time to escape at the cock n, when a quantity has 
collected sufficient in any way to retard the action of the 
machine. It is from this lower chamber that the water is 
supplied to the upper reservoir P. The upper chamber / of 
the cylinder L is destined to receive the air, which is to be 
forced into and thus condensed in it by means of the small air 
p^irap Mfc'^Itjwill be seen that the two small pipes o^ o, com- 
siunicate witii the upper chamber I of the cylinder L. and the 
tipper chamber c, c, ot the two pumps K, K; these pipes are 
to let in the condensed air upon the tops of the piston c?, c?, td 
cause the downward movement of their alternate action, q^ q^ 
are two valves, each furnished with a lever <, /, which levers 
are connected by a jointed cross bar S, as shown in plan in 
the margin of the drawing No. 1. As the two arms or levers 
t\ tii of this contrivance project beyond the vertical line of the 


pendulum I, they are acted upon alternately by the vibration 
of the pendulum, thus alternately opening and shutting the 
valves y, q. The lower reservoir O may be of any convenient 
capacity, but the upper reservoir P should, at least, be able to 
contain as much water as tvvi nty-five of the buckets can hold ; 
and theascendin jr pipe N, through which the water is raised from 
the lower chamber k of the cylinder L to the upper reservoir P, 
should be of such a diameter a;^ to contain exactly the quantity 
of water required to fill three of the buckets in the space 
between the point u (which should always be in a line with 
the division/) and the point r. The cock X is to regulate the 
descent ol the wafer from the reservoir P into the buckets, 
which should be just equal to what is pumped up by each pump 
at each stroke of the piston, y is an air cock communicating 
with the upper chamber I of the cylinder L, and is to let a 
portion of the condensed air escape when its too great density 
causes the engine to work at too rapid a rate. Z is a cock lor 
emptying the lower chamber of the cylinder L when necessary 
for repairs or otherwise, and a similar cuck or valve should 
be made to the. lower reservoir O, in case at any time it should 
be required to empty it. As it is necessary that each bucket 
as it empties itself should be replaced by a full one, the pinion 
D should be so regulated with reference to the toothed wheel 
c (which is fixed on the same axis as the drum A), that at 
every half revolution of the fly wheel F (which gears m with 
the pinion D, and is on the same axis with the eccen ric E), 
one of the buckets shall present its If in turn under the cock 
X to be filled. The pendulum I is fixed on the same axis as the 
balance beam G, G, and the object of the eccentric fixed on the 
axis of the fly wheel is to act upon that part of the pendulum 
which I call the escapement at r, thus propellingthe pendulum to 
one side, while as soon as the eccentiic turns away from r, 
and it thus escapes from the action of the eccentric lor a tiiue, 
its own weight brings it back to be acted upon by the ecceniri i 
again, thus keeping up the vibration of the pendulum. The 
jointed bars at H, H, H, H, which I have called the escape- 
ment, form a part of the rod I. This rod is furni-hed with 
the weight I 2, which may be raised or lowered on the rod I, by 
turning il to the right or left on the thread of t'le screw Q. to re- 
gulate the motion of the pendulum; and this motion may be 
further regulated by the segment bar and adjusting screw, which 

442 PBRPETUUM mobile; 

expands or contracts the jointed bars H^ H^ H, H, of the 
escapement, at pleasure, and thus allows an increased or dimi- 
nished action of the eccentric on the part r or the escapement; 
R is a lever to throw the pinion D in and out of gear with (his 
fly Wheel F, in order to stop the machine or put it in action 
when required ; and it may be well here to describe that the 
h effected by means df the small arm^ which, when in gear, 
protrudes through a hole in the flange of the pinion ; but when 
the pinion is drawn aw^ay from this arm, the fly wheel and all 
upon its axis stopsj and the pinion turns harmlessly with the 
toothed vVheel. 

This verbose description is followed by describing how the 
invention is to be Worked^ which it is needless to inquire into* 

[In the "Description des Machines et procedes pour lesquel* 
des Brevets d'Invention out et^ pris;" Paris, vol. 33, p. 239, 
is an account of a ** Machine hydropneumatique, dite Machine 
iiainsselinej'* Laporte, October^ 1836.] 


[No. 6510], of Leicester Place^ London, Engineer. **An 
engine for producing motive power, applicable to varioas pur- 
poses." It comprises an outer circular case, supported on a 
stand, having a corresponding hollow Water and air-tight 
cylinder turning on an axis, working in a stuffing box ; this 
axis is fixed to a drum, and passes through the case at 
each side, which supports it. This frame contains pistons 
or friction plates occupying the space between the inner drum 
and outer Case on all four sides. There is an air COck, mercurial 
guage^ springs, leather packing, metal plates, &c , &tc. Y t in 
spite of all this complication, we are informed the engine eaets 
"by a joint poWer derived from the buoyancy of a body in 
fluids, and the weight of a body in vacuo." 

Note.— This patent was made the subject of a joint-stock 
company* (See conclusion of Chapter X.) 

1839;- Jacob fiaAiiiLL [No. 8312], of Deptford, Kent, 
Governor of Trinity Ground. *' Improvements in obtaining 
motive power.*" 

My invention consi«»ts in a certain arrangement or com- 
binaiion of mechanism whrrein (he atmospheric air is employed 



as the impellingagent, being brought to bear in such a manner as 
by exerting a constant urging pressure, to produce a continuous 
rotary motion, and applies to all the purposes where a prime 
mover is required. 

Fig. 1 is an end view df the apparatus, fl, a, are the bearings, 
top and bottom, for the vertical 
shaft b^ which bearings are to 
be so constructed as to produce 
the least possible amount of 
friction, c is a large drum 
furnished with radial plates or 
fans, some of the plates being 
so arranged as to slope down 
towards the bottom plate^ thus 
forming, as it were, a series of 
boxes decreasing in their trans- 
verse dimensions as they ap- 
proach the boss. This drum is to be put in motion by means 
of a current of air directed through the pipes d and ^, from the 
two pairs of double bellows/ and ff. A is a worm fixed on the 
vertical shaft by means of a tightening screw, or in any other 
convenient way, taking into the worm wbeelton the horizontal 
crank-?hafty, supported in bearings k, k. The cranks /, I, 
work the bellows, by connecting rods m, m; n is a spur wheel 
taking into a pinion o, on the axle of which is a winch handle 
p^ for starting the apparatus. 

What I claim as my peculiar right is, the impulsion of a 
current of air against the fans of a drum (as that at c) through 
pipes, as at d and e) for the purposes of a motive power, together 
with a certain arrangement of mechanism, by means of which 
the action first induced shall be kept up. 

1842.— William Henry Stuckey [No. 9419], of St. 
Pi.'tersburg* P^squire. ** A pneumatic engine for producing 
motive power." 

Fig. 1 is a front view of my said pneumatic engine, partly 
iu section. A^ and B^ two horizontal cylinders, united at 
tiioir inner extremities a, a, which rotate on gudgeons that 
have their bearings 0, G, in the upright standards D, D ; A'' 
and B' two pistons which work to and fro iu these cyiindera \ 



E' aod F? two hollow amiB or tubes which radiate from the 
cylinder A^ and E^, E*, two Bimilar amiB or tnbes which 
radiate in opposite directions from the cylinder B^ each 
cylinder having an open comraonication with the amiB of 
tubes attached to it. F\ P, P, and P, four other cylinders, 
affixed to a circular ring R, R, open at top to the atmosphere 
and open at bottom to the railial tubes £^ E?, P, E^, connected 
with them at their outer extremities. G^ G", GP, G*, pistons 
working in the cylinders F, P, F, and F, and H^ H-, H», 
and H.*, caps screwed ou to the flanges of the cylinders. The 
different parts described form a wheel, which, on being set in 
motion, rotates on the gudgeons in the bearings C, C. Tha 
motion is produced as follows: — I adjust the wheel so that the 
tubes E^ and E^ shall be in a vertical position ; and pour into 
the tube E^, through the cylinder F^ withdrawing the pistun 
G^ as much mercury or other suitable fluid body (previously 
determined by calculation) as will till ti»e tube from the p lint 
i)t iiH conuectiou with the inner cylinder A^ up to the U^ttom 
(a, a,) ot the outer cylinder F\ The mercury thus introduced 
liowB into the cylinder A^ at the back of the piston A^ and 

presses that piston forward to 
the extremity of its range, the 
piston G^ being then restored 
to its place in the cylinder F\ 
and pressed close down on the 
mercury in the tube E^ I 
next turn the wheel till the 
tubes E^ and E* are in a vertical 
position, by which turning the 
mercury therein is forced into 
the tube E^ flowing down which 
it drives the piston G' of the 
cylinder F^ forward to the ex- 
tremity of its range, leaving 
a vRcuilm in the cylinder A^ at O, equal to the difference 
between the heights from which the mercury descends in the 
tul)e8 K^ and E^ I then fill the tube E'^ and cylinder B^ with 
mercury, to the same extent and in the same way as I pre- 
viously filled the tube E^ and cylinder A^ after wuich I turn 
the wheel till the tubes E^ and L^ are once more in a vertical 
}K)siti()n, whereby 1 produce a vacuum in each pair of tubes, 
and their intermediate cylinder, to the degree of the difference 


before explained. To the four tubes there are attached four 
cocks K*, K^, K^, K*, which, after the vacua have been ob- 
tained, are closed ; and to the four rods of the pistons of the 
outer cylinders F\ F*, F^ F*, there are attached four hanging 
or balance weights L^, U, JJ, h\ in such manner that they 
shall co-operate with the atmospheric pressure on the said 
vacua in giving rotation to the wheel. M^, M'*, M^ M*, are 
jointed levers, by which these weights are connected at one 
end with the pistons GS G^ G^ G* ; and N^ N^ are cords or 
bands, by which they are suspended at the other end from 
standards P, P, projecting from the ring R, and bearing 
pulleys, over which the cords or bands pass, each cord or band 
serving to suspend the two weights which are opposite to each 
other, for which purpose it is passed internally across the 
wheel and over the exterior of one of the cylinders A^ or B\ 
The cords or bands are attached to the weights at the lower 
ends thereof, and pass over small pulleys close to the points of 
connexion, so that the cords or bands, when pulled, may act 
the more effectually on the weights. It will be readily un- 
derstood that when any two of the tubes are in a vertical 
position, and the mercury or other suitable fluid has descended 
to the bottom of the lower tube, its pressure on the piston of 
the outer cylinder G^ or G^, or G^ or G*, will cause the weight 
connected with that piston to turn inwards towards the centre 
of the wheel, by which movement a strain is exerted on the 
connecting cord or band N^ or N^, which throws up the oppo- 
site weight at top, and causes it to force down the piston of 
the top cylinder, or the surface of the mercury in the upper 
tube, whereby any excess of pressure at the bottom of the 
lower tube is transferred to the top piston, where it acts in aid 
of the atmospheric pressure on the vacua obtained in manner 
aforesaid. The four cocks K, have regulating rods connected 
to them in the way common in steam and other engines, so 
that as each tube comes into a vertical position the cock 
attached to it is opened, and as it passes from that position 
towards the horizontal, is shut, so that the mercury always 
retains its proper position in the tubes or cylinders, and is 
acted on by the pressure of the atmosphere at those points 
only where such pressure can be of service. The power of 
this wheel will be, of course, in proportion to the vucua pro- 
duced in manner aforesaid, and to the altitude of the columns 
of mercury employed. The inner cylinders might be dispensea 


PERPETUUM mobile; 

with, and the tubes be made to communicate directly with each 
other, but I prefer, for most purposes, the arrangement which 
I have before described, with the two intermediate cylinders 
AS B* ; where the inner cylinders are dispensed with, I make 
use of eccentrics instead of the joined levers before described, 
to enable the weights to turn to the extent of about half a 
circle. The number of tubes also need not be limited to four, 
but increased to any convenient extent 

1845. — WiLLiAJtf WiLLCocKs Sleigh [No. 10,711], of 
Chiswick, Middlesex, Doctor of Medicine and Surgeon. "A 
hydro-mechanic apparatus for producing motive power." 

The nature of my invention consists in the application of 
hydrostatic pressure in a chamber by means of apparatus, 
and in such manner as to reduce the effect of the hydrostatic 
pressure in the said chamber, in whatever direction io opposite 
to that in which it is intended that the said pressure shall 
propel the said chamber, and thereby produce motive power, 
without depending upon any escape of water from the said 
chamber for that purpose. 

Fig. 1 represents a vertical sectional elevation of the 
Q apparatus. The framework 

A A A A. B B, a foundation 
plate into which the two vertical 
pillars or guide rods C C C C 
are firmly screwed and held 
in position at their upper ex- 
tremities by the cross bar D. 
In the framework A A A A 
lies the horizontal pipe E, from 
the ends of which rise two 
vertical pipes F and G. The 
pipe F has a stuffing box H H, 
and a solid cylindrical piston 
I I ; a supply pipe and tap J 
leads from a small funnel K ; and lower down, projecting 
from the same pipe, is a discharge cock L. At the upper 
end of the pipe G is a stuffing box M M, through which 
works up and down in the pipe G the smaller pipe N N, 
open at both its extremities 0. On the upper end of this 
pipe N N is fixed and supported, by means of two vertical 


Tods k k, the chamber a a a a, which has a free communica- 
tion with the water in the pipe N N, through the opening O ; 
this chamber consists of two hollow cylinders a a a a, united 
at a right angle. The horizontal cylinder has an opening or 
commimication d d with the perpendicular one, and is fur- 
nished at each end with a piston h h. The perpendicular 
cylinder is furnished with the piston Ji A, which answers as a 
moveable bottom to the whole chamber ; these three pistons, 
h h and h A, are connected together. The piston h h has an 
opening and stuffing box at t i, for the pipe N N. r r, 
various stuffing boxes for the pistons h h and A A. S, a rod 
for communicating the power gained to machinery. T, an 
air cock for the admission of air during the filling and 
emptying of the pipes and chamber. All these pistons must 
move water-tight and with as little friction as possible. 

I will now proceed to describe the modus operandi and 
the effect to be produced thereby. Water must be introduced 
into the pipes E F G, through the small funnel K, and through 
the supply cock J, imtil these pipes, together with the pipe N 
N and the chamber a a a a^ are all completely full, the air 
cock T being open during the flow of water. When all are 
full, the supply cock J and the air cock T must be closed, and 
the piston I I pushed down into the pipe E ; this will cause 
the water in the chamber a a a aio press upon every portion 
of its interior surface with a power greater than that given to 
the piston 1 1, proportionate to the difference between the area 
of the piston I I and the area of the chamber. Now, the 
moveable bottom or piston h h being supported by the lateral 
pressure on the pistons b b, the upper part or roof of the 
chamber a a a ais freed from a great part of the counteracting 
effect of the downward pressure on the moveable bottom h /i, 
and, therefore, the upward pressure necessarily carries the 
chamber and all fixed to it upwards with a proportioned 
effective power, the said chamber of course descending on 
the upstroke of the piston II. A power being thus obtained 
in the chamber a a a a, greater than that given to the piston 
I I, it is evident that if the rod S be connected by any ordinary 
means to a crank shaft or other suitable machinery, and the 
piston rod of the piston 1 1 be moved by a suitable power, an 
increased production of motive power must be the result, 
which may be applied by any of the ordinary well-known 
means to machinery. 

448 PEBPETuuM mobile; 


" The niacliine imparts a power of upward motion to the 
chamber a a a a, greater than the power applied to the prime 
mover or piston I I, without depending upon any escape of 
water from the said chamber for such effect/' 

1853. — ^WiLLUM WiLLCocKs Sleigh [No. 809], of 
London, Physician and Surgeon. " The production of motive 
power, which he entitles ' The counteracting re-acting motive 
power engine.* " He says : — 

"The nature of my said invention consists in producing 
motive power by means of water, or of any suitable fluid or 
liquid, acting by a forcing pump, or other well-known means, 
in certain chanibers fixed to an axletree, the said chambers 
being so constructed that that portion or aspect of the 
pressure, force, or power, which is in the direction opposite 
to that in which it is intended motion should take place, is 
neutralized, resisted, or counteracted in such a way, and by 
such contrivance or apparatus, that the said re-action shall not 
counteract that portion or direction of the said pressure, 
force, or power of said fluid or liquid which is in the direc- 
tion of the intended motion. The said motion not depending 
upon nor being produced by the exit or escape of any of 
said fluid or liquid from said chambers." 

After describing his complex machinery, he says : — " From 
all which, it must be evident that when the chambers are 
filled with water by the pump, and force applied to its 
handle, the said pressure or force must produce a rotatory 
motion of said chambers, axletree, apparatus attached 
thereto, and any machinery connected by any ordinary 
means to said axletree." But, unfortunately for the scientific 
world and the public at large, said " counteracting re-action 
motive-power machine " has not ypt been able to cpuiiteract 
the common inertia of matter. 

1856. — William Willcocks Sleigh [No. 404], for 
producing motive power, which I entitle " The hydrostatic 
motive-power engine.** 

It consists " in producing power by the action of a forcing- 
pump, or water contained in certain chambers fixed to an 
axletree, counteracting by mechanical apparatus that portion 
of the force or pressure which is in the direction opposite to 


that in which it is intended motion should take place, said 
motion and counteraction not being produced by, nor de- 
pending upon, the exit or escape of any of said water from 
said chambers." Two folio printed pages, and a large 
drawing of five figures, complete the specification of this most 
impracticable machine. 

I860. — William Willcocks Sleigh, of 49, Middleton 
Square, London, M.D. " The neutralific motive-power 

Without any preliminary remark, the patentee commences 
with a description of the drawings given in four figures on 
two large sheets. The first contains a side view, with the 
frame for supporting the axle, and an immoveable ring ; the 
second shows the axle with a longitudinal canal in its centre, 
forming a communication between a forcing-pump and 
cylinders or chambers, firmly fixed to the axle, to which 
guide-rods, or arms, are fixed ; piston-rods support plungers 
in the cylinders; a forcing-pump communicates with the 
canal on the axle ; a flat ring is fixed to and supported by 
the frame by brackets, to which four toothed pinions are 
*fixed. A ring has teeth in its convex and concave surfaces, 
and also steps on each side of a former row of teeth. This 
ring is supported by and acts on a pinion. A lesser ring, 
with teeth on its periphery, is firmly fixed to the guide-rods 
or arms. Horizontal levers are attached to the piston-roda. 
A horizontal arm supports a cam. Legs act on the steps of 
a wheel (that with teeth on its convex and concave surfaces). 
A "circular wheel" has teeth co-operating with the teeth of 
the foregoing wheel, and has cams on each side to act on 
levers. Other levers are jointed on legs, acted on by the 
preceding levers, and on guide-rods or arms. There are 
horizontal levers to adapt the piston-rods to the bent end of 
the guide-rods, so bent to enable the guide-rods to pass clear 
in front of the before-named flat ring and the pinions. 

The forces produced by water, in this instance, may be 
produced by a liquid or solid substance, capable of exciting 
two forces in opposite directions. To put the engine in 
action, the cylinders being full of water, force is to be ap- 
plied, strong enough to sustain, and continue so to do, by 
repeated strokes of the pumps, till the piston of the chambers 

450 PERPETUUM mobile; 

be resisted and supported. Then motion commences ! The; 
cams before-named acting on levers, produce an action similar 
to that of a person on a treadmill. The pistons and their 
rods being thus supported and resisted, the force acting on 
the surface of the chambers opposite to said pistons, rotate 
the guide-rods, the axle, and the chambers. To stop the 
engine, open the tap, and let the water escape from the 
chambers ! 

The claim is for-—" the principle by which the said neutralific 
motive-power engine acts, and which principle consists in 
counteracting or neutralizing one of two forces acting in 
opposite cdrections, produced by either a liquid, fluid, or 
solid, the force so counteracted or neutralized being in the 
•direction opposite to that on which it is intended motion 
«hould take place; said motion not depending upon nor 
being produced by the exit or escape of any liquid or fluid 
from said chambers." 

We have been thus particular in describing this " neutralific 
engine,** because it is impossible to accompany it with an 
engraving, the printing of the present work being in progress 
during the lodging of the final specification. But what 
engineer, or engineer's apprentice, can require any further 
illustration by which to enable bim to discover, whether a 
fluid thus bottled up in a chamber can, by means of pumps, 
levers, cams, and toothed pinions, be made to move ma- 
chinery at all, much less so as to require to " open the tap 
And let the water escape ** to stop it ? 

1846.— William Eaton [No. 11,462], of Newington, 
Surrey, Engineer. "Certain improvements in obtaining 
motive power," which consist, " in the first place, in a novel 
Arrangement of machinery or known mechanical agents by 
which fluids, being subjected to pressure or force from an 
fiydraulic press or other power applied in a suitable manner, 
are caused to work or operate perpetually, or so long as the 
parts of the said mechanical agents are in a working condition, 
for the purpose of actuating other machinery, as a substitute 
for a steam engine, water-wheel, windmill, or other first 

The fourteenth year for which this patent was granted 
liaving this year expired, the public should not only be itt' 


formed '* that a principle .heretofore not used in any engine or 
machinery is brought into action,'" and that the acting 
'- pressure, weight, or force *' is not " required to pass through 
space," but also that this elaborately described and illustrated 
invention is now public property. Let the use hereafter made 
of it be the test of its merit. 

1848.— Joseph Eugene Asaert [No. 12,293], of Lille, 
France, Machinist. "Improved means of obtaining motive 

I combine two endless chains or bands in such manner 
that one is caused to be moved by a series of descending 
weights, and thus to obtain motive power to axes, from which 
motion is communicated to the second endless chain or band, 
which is so arranged as to convey the several weights back 
to the higher position, and owing to there being at all times 
a large number of weight's descending and acting at a greater 
leverage than there are 'weights ascending, and which act at 
a lesser leverage, there will result a considerable motive power 
for giving motion to other machinery. 

Fig. 1, a side elevation of the machine, a o, the framing ; 
b b, an endless chain carried by the two chain wheels c d. On 
the endless chain b b are fixed brackets e e e^ which receive 
the weights ///, as the brackets come successively over the 
chain wheel c, thus causing the chain to descend on that side 
of the wheel, and thus is motion obtained continuously to 
the wheels c d^ according to the number and amount of weight 
used, and if a constant succession of these weights be 
delivered to the' carrying brackets e c, on the chain b b, the 
power obtained would be the value of the several weights //", 
which are constantly descending with the chain b b, but from 
this amount of pressure will have to be deducted the loss by 
reason of the friction of the various parts, and also the requi- 
site force for causing the weights/jT to be returned into a 
position for keeping up a constant suppl) to the chain b b. 
ff g, di second endless chain, carried by the chain wheels A t, 
on the axes h} z^, which turn in suitable bearings at h^ i^, 
and it is by means of this chain g g that the weights // re- 
turn to the upper part of the machine so as to keep up a 
supply to the chain b b^ and so that that chain in descending 
will have all the descending brackets filled, and the leverage 



PERPETUUM mobile; 

by which these weights will be raised will be the radius of 
the wheels h f, which, being compared with, will be seen to 
be much less than the radius of the wheels c i/, and there- 
fore the leverage with which the weights ff act when de- 
scending, will be greater than that of the ascending weights. 
Motion is communicated to the chain y y in the following- 

manner : — On the axis c^ is affixed a bevilled toothed wheel 
c*, which takes into and drives the bevilled toothed wheel k 


on the axis k^, which turns in suitable bearings carried by 
the framing of the machine. . At the lower end of the axis k^ 
is affixed a bevilled toothed wheel k^, which takes into and 
drives the toothed wheel I affixed to the axis i^ of the chain 
wheel e. r r^ are two toothed bars^ which are so arranged as 
to work alternately in connection with the cog wheels on the 
axes h i ; that is to say, when the bar r is descending, and 
by its weight gives motion to the axes h t, and thus aid in 
raising the ascending weights carried up by the chain ^, the 
the bar r^ being raised during the time the bar r is descend- 
ing, for which purpose the bar r^ is moved out of gear, with 
its cog wheels on the axes hi, then the bar r wilLbe put out 
of gear with its cog wheels on the axes A i, and the bar r^ 
will be brought into gear with its cog wheels and will become 
the descending bar, and act to give motion to the axes h i, 
and thus aid in raising the ascending weights, and thus will 
they alternately be the means of aiding in giring motion to 
the axes hu The manner in which the bars r r^ are 
caused to rise is as follows : — The bars are connected to- 
gether in such manner, that by moving one out* of gear with 
its cog wheels on the axgs h e, will put the other bar into 
gear withx its wheels on the axes h i, so that the bars r r^ 
may alternately become descending bars, whilst the other is 
being raised into a position to become an acting descending 
bar. In raising the bars r r^, there is a corresponding train 
of wheels to each bar, which receive their motion from the 
axis t,' and the act of moving either bar r or r^ out of action 
in respect to its cog wheels on the axes A •', will bring that 
bar into a position to be acted on by its train of wheels for 
raising it. s, a cog wheel on the axis t^, which gives motion 
to the cog wheel a^, which has on its axis the cog wheel s^, 
which, when the bar is brought into position, raises it ; and 
a like arrangement of wheels is used to each bar r r^. At 
each end of the axis f- is an eccentric t, which gives motion 
to the lever «, and to the two bars r r\ so that the one 
which has completed its descent is put in communication 
with its train of cog wheels, whilst the other bar r or r^, 
which has completed its ascent, will be put in communication 
with its cog wheels on the axes h i, in ojder again to descend, 
and thus will there be a bar r or r^ to descend, and thus aid 
in causing the ascending weights to be moved upwards to 
their highest position. By these arrangements, the supply 

454 PERPETUUM mobile; 

of weight*? ff will be kept up in direct ratio with the descent 
by the chain h b. And in order to ensure that the weights 
as they go out of use m respect to the chain h h may come 
into a correct position for the chain g g io take them up, the 
following arrangement of pares is employed :-^» nnn are 
four chain wheels on the two axes w^ w^, and these two pair 
of wheels carry the two endless chains «^ n^, which have 
horns or projections «* at suitable intervals, so that wheil 
the weights are left successively by the brackets on the chain 
6, they will be received between these horns or projections, 
and moved thereby till they come into a position for the 
carrying brackets on the endless chain g y, by which the 
weights will be successively raised to the highest position in 
the machine, the ascending weights moving with greater 
velocity than the descending weijjhts, and thus is the con- 
stant supply kept up to the chain h h. Motion is communi- 
cated to the endless chains n^ n^ by the axis o,* which turns 
in suitable bearings carried by the* framing of the machine. 
OA the axis o is affixed the bevilled toothed wheel o^, which 
is driven by the bevilled toothed wheel dfi on the axis of the 
chain wheel d; and bn the other ^nd of the axis o is affixed 
the bevilled toothed wheel o*, which takes into and drives 
the toothed wheel n* on one of the axes n^, so that the two 
endless chains «^ will be moved at such a speed as to 
receive and carry forward the successive Weights // to the 
chain g g ; and in order that the weights /may be correctly 
taken forward from the chain g, there are two endless chains 
p p carried by four chain wheels qq on axes, two of which 
turn freely on the axis h of the endless chain gg, the other 
, two wheels g q being fixed on the axes y^, and there are 
horiis or projections which receive the successive weights, 
and caUse them to be moved into a correct position for the 
tendles!5 chain b. there being springs between the guides near 
where the weights pass into the brackets on the chain h A, 
such sprinsrs simply acting to prevent the weights passing 
Without some force, by which they are insured being cor- 
rectly delivered to the brackets of the chain b by the move- 
ment caused by the chains jo/i, all which will readily be 
understood on examining the drawings* Tte weights are 
guided ill their descent, and also in their ascent, by means of 
the guides x x. In order to retard and stop the machine, a 
Htiap break is used, with other apparatus. 



Having thus described my invention^ what I claim is, the 
mode herein explained of combining mechanical parts into a 
machine, whereby two endless chains or bands are caused to 
be put in motion by a series of weights, the descending 
weights being at all times more numerous, and acting with 
greater leverage than the ascending weights, whereby an 
improved means of obtaining motive power is produced. 

ISSO.^Aritaud Nicolas Freche [No. 13,220], of Paris, 
Merchant. '* Improvements in obtaining power." 

The specification . occupies seven folio piinted pages, and, 
from its peculiar language, is possibly a translation made 
abroad^ The plan of leverage and the descriptiou are sq 
peculiar that they are jgiven entirie : — 

This invention consists in the creation of a principle of 
action of several levers producing by one another suph ft 
progression of power that the 
inventor thinks it susceptible 
of being applied to all the ncr 
cessities which are supplied by 
steam. The inventor explains 
that the weight placed on the 
lever a will be trebled at the 
point which unites this lever to 
that marked c, and that this 
last will increase it sixfold, be- 
cause it will double the power ,^ 
given to it by lever a, which ' ' 
will cause on the first of the multiplying levers e a weighing 
equal to six times the weight with which the lever a is 
leaded. This first multiplying lever having for point of sup- 
port an axis bearing a sector, which will thus be diiected by 
it, and the radius of this sector only being the fifth part of 
the length of this lever, the power given by this sector tp the 
first niultiplying lever will be five times greater, which will 
make it represent thirty times the weight which will Joad the 
lever a ; but, as the cam that this sector causes to work to 
give a weighing on the second multiplying leyer t, cannot be 
conveniently worked unless it be at som^ distance from the 
centre of the pinion which make it move, the thirty powtr 
above cited will be reduced to twelve and a half, causing the 


weight which will be operated on the second multiplying 
lever. Now, proceeding to this second multiplying lever, 
and stating that by the reason that the length of its arm will 
contain three times the radius of the sector which it will 
impel, the twelve and a half power which will belong to this 
one will be trebled on this sector, and the power of this last 
will be equal to thirty-seven and a half times the weight 
which will load lever a ; but as the cam which this sector 
will impel to make this third multiplying lever yield (marked 
m) its power as the preceding one will take place at some 
distance from the centre of the pinion which makes it work, 
these thirty-seven and a half power will be reduced to fifteen 
and a half, making the weight which will rest on the third 
multipl5ring lever. And, lastly, as the length of this third 
multiplying lever will also contain three times the radius of 
the sector which it will govern, and that so the fifteen and a 
half power which will weigh on it will be trebled on this 
sector, the power that the latter will have will be equal to 
forty-six and a half times the weight which will load the 
lever a, power which will yet be reduced by the effect of the 
distance from the point where the cam will work, reduction 
which will be, however, less than the preceding ones, 
because the pinion directing this cam being larger will be 
more powerful than the other two, from which the result will 
be that the forty-six and a half power will only be reduced to 
twenty-three and a quarter. It will thus be seen what is the 
progression of powers which will be given at the beginning of the 
operation by the simultaneous action of all these levers. That 
which must be next explained is the means that the inventor 
of this principle has imagined to overcome the obstacle which 
has always given to believe that it never could be attained to 
make a lever raise by the action of another. It is true that 
at the first aspect this obstacle seemed to defy all that could 
be tried to overcome it, since nature itself seemed to oppose 
it being vanquished. However, the perseverance with which 
the inventor sought the means of prevailing has made him 
find it, and this is in what these means consist : — Since, has 
he said, the power which a lever gives to an eccentric with the 
appropriation of raising another lever, cannot give fully to 
this eccentric the force necessary to it, so that it may operate 
this raising, as this power is more than absorbed by the re- 
sistance when the pressure of the eccentric takes place at a 


point too distant from its centre of motion^ this obstacle mig:ht, 
perhaps, be overcome by the creation of a system which would 
maintain the permanency of all the points of power. Starting 
from this beam of light, the inventor from that moment 
thought of using several levers, whose powers should be dis- 
tributed at equal distances on the extent of the course the 
eccentric should go over, being quite persuaded that by this 
means the resistance occasioned by the raising of the levers 
which have gone over their course will hot only be totally 
overcome, but that the power produced by these levers (which 
will overcome the resistance) will give besides an incease of 
power which will be capable of answering all necessities. 

Here follow the descriptions of the different pieces which 
will compose each row : — a, principal lever, which will be 
charged with a relative weight according to the power to be 
produced. a\ a", a"\ a"", o**"\ point at which it is placed, 
each of the levers a of the five rows placed next that whose 
figure is given l^r the drawing, when the lever a is at the 
place shown ; this explains that all the levers of this me- 
chanism should be disponed by gradation, so that their effect 
may bring on the driving shaft an equal and constant power, 
which predominates the resistance opposed to the levers arriv- 
ing at the end of their course by the levers that they raise, and 
thus maintains forcibly the continual impulse of the levers. 
The explanation just given for the levers a being applicable 
to those who depend on them, since it is the levers a which 
make them act, it is easily understood that they cannot be 
placed otherwise than by gradations, as are the levers a ; this 
is the reason the drawing only shows the gradation of the said 
levers a. 5, band which imites the lever a to that of above, 
to give it the power produced by the lever a ; e, top lever, 
whose power is equal to six times the heaviness of the weight 
which should charge lever a; d, tail-piece, giving that power 
to the first multiplying lever; e, first multiplier; /, sector 
moved by this lever ; g, pinion which engages with the sector 
/ to move the first cam ; h, first cam ; i , second multiplying 
lever, to which this cam will give the effect of the first ; ./, 
sector moved by this lever; ^, pinion which engages "with 
this sector to move the second cam ; Z, second cam ; m, third 
multiplying lever, to which this cam will gve the power 
which the second multiplying lever will have given it; «, 
sector moved ,by the third multiplying lever ; o, intermediate 


PEKPETUUM mobile; 

wheel, whose use is to move the third cam in the proper 
direction ; p, pinion which engages with this wheel to move 
the third cam ; q^ third cam ; r, lever to which this cam will 
give the power which the preceding levers will have given. 
This last lever will have, similar to all the others, a roller, 
which will aleviate the hardness of the tail-piece and cams ; 
«, crank, which will give to the driving shaft the power 
which will be transmitted to it by lever r; t, wimble, which 
will have two uses, — first, that of joining the crank to the 
driving shaft ; second, that of acting by return to raise lever 
a ; w, wlieelwork, which will facilitate this raising by regu- 
lating it according to the course of the crank 8 ; v, fly-wheel, 
which will maintain the progression of the pieces producing 
the power ; x, gears directing this fly-wheel, which, like the 
said gears, will be placed in the empty space which will 
separate the two sides of this mechanism ; y, driving shaft, 
which will be common to all the cranks, and from whence 
will be taken, whether on itself, or on other points by means 
of transmission, the power dlsposHble ; 2, point of support of 
the levers and gear trees, the whole bearing on two frames, 
which will make for each row of levers a separate casing. 
Note, a hanging: rod beneath the weights, which will load the 
levers a, and which will traverse two plates sliding between 
two grooves, will stop the working of this mechanism at will, 
by means of a screw threaded for the purpose, which will by 
thtse plates strongly press the hanging rod working, which ' 
will be carried out by means of a (screw threaded for the 
purpose, which will, by these plates, strongly press the 
hanging rod working, which will be carried out by means of 
a screw) turning handle, helped by gears if necessarj', and 
which at the same time will disengage the fly-wheel. The 
upper lever, designated by the letter C, will also be loaded 
with a weight if thought fit, so as to have to place on the lever 
a a heavy load. In order that the cogs of the gears may 
constantly adhere, so that the coming and going that the levers 
xiperate may not cause any loss of time, springs or balance 
weights will be used, which, being fixed to the axes of these 
gears, will oblige their cogs to remain always applied to each 
other. The inventor thinks that this addition of levers would 
deliver this mechanissm from the inconvenience of the dead 
points which the wimbles cause by the position they take in 
their revolutions. He, moreover, thinks that by these levers 


more power still would be gained ; but this advantage would 
be at the expense of the velocity. As to the first motion which 
the cams would prevent being regular, it would be remedied 
by arranging the arm of the levers joined to the cranks, so as 
to give to the driving shaft an invariable motion, whatever be 
the action of these cams on the lovers which impel the driving 

1851. — GusTAV Adolph Bdchholz [No. 13,515], of 
Norfolk Street, London, Civil Engineer. '' Improvements in 
motive power, and in propulsion.'* This is a specification in 
eleven printed folio pages, with seventeen sheets of drawings, 
containing thirty-nine figures. The third part of his inven- 
tion consists " in a machine constructed of such mechanical 
parts, that, constant pressure being applied at two or more 
points, and so that the lines of pressure shall give rotary 
motion to one or more axes, the pressure shall remain sta- 
tionary in position." At page 6 of this singular document, 
he says : — " I will now proceed to describe certain modes of 
applying constant force of pressure to the eccentrics, to pro- 
duce the desired motion." He thus begins: — "A is the 
framework of the machine, which is securely bolted and fixed 
together. B*, a '•bush,' through which the screw C* works 
for compressing the spring D*, pressing upon the rods E*, 
E*," and so forth. And we are assured — " this machine 
will be found to work more advantageously when the forces 
are applied to the eccentrics in a direction as nearly as pos- 
sible at right angles to a line passing through the centres of 
the two systems of eccentrics." Again, — " Drawing 8 shews 
another simple machine," in which "pressure upon the 
^eccentrics will produce a continuous rotary motion of the 
«haft A." He then gives his views on obtaining compound 

1852.— Thomas Gbeaves [No. 283], of Manchester, 
Veterinary Surgeon. "Improvements in the method or 
means of obtaining or employing motive power." "This 
machine consists of a beam about six feet long, affixed upon 
a frame ; at one end of the beam are two connecting rods, 
one attached to a crank, the other to a rod over a hopper." 

460 PEiiPETUuM mobile; 

A flat chain, large pulley, buckets, &c., follow ; yet, in spite 
of all, "this machine will dispense entirely and altogether 
with either steam power or manual labour !" Believe it who 

1855. — Thomas Gkeaves [No. 2205]. In October, 1855^ 
he commenced, but did not complete, a patent for improve- 
ments on above. I now propose (he says) to have only one 
shaft to run through the beam, and also through two large 
bevil wheels, the beam being placed between thi- said wheels, 
one end forming a shaft for two pinions of different sizes 
rivetted together, which gear into the bevil wheels, each 
having two half rims, one forming an inner or lesser circle, 
having teeth of the same pitch, gearing into one of the 
pinions, et ctBtera^ and et cmtera ! . 

1852.— Lot Faulknek [No. 410], of Cheadle, Chester, 
Machinist. " Certain improvements in the method of obtaining 
motive power." 

'' I employ a beam capable of vibrating upon a fixed centre ; 
to one end I attach the machinery to be moved ; to the other, 
two levers mounted upon studs, and so connected by spur 
gearinij that they shall revolve in opposite directions, and 
always counterbalance each other ; and upon these levers I 
place suitable weights.*' And so on. In conclusion, " As 
the power required to put the weighted levers In motion is 
so small in comparison with the force exerted at the other 
end of the vibrating beam, it will be evident that a gp*eat 
increasing motive power is obtained." This being only a 
provisional specificsetion, so far makes the supposed inven- 
tion public and free. 

1852.— Ebnst Luedeke [No. 706], of Bedford Street, 
London. " Improvements in obtaining and applying motive 
power." "I intend, by the use of a pendulum, doable 
wheel, and springs, to produce vibration, kept up by the 
concurrent action of the pendulum," &c. Only provisional, 
and therefore now public property. 


1852.— Thomas Wood [No. 887], of the Glue Works, 
Hunslet, Leeds, Millwright. ^ " Improvements in the mode of 
obtaining motive power.*' " My invention consists (he says) 
in obtaining motive power by means of a wheel, the peri- 
phery of which presses on water, or any other fluid, confined 
within a box or case, or larger wheel, to which, backward 
and forward, or rotatory, motion is communicated by me- 
chanical means.*' He adds : — " In combination with this 
wheel and water chamber, I employ weights, which are 
made alternately to rise and fall, and by means of levers and 
suitable gearing to act upon the wheel.'* A good drawing 
of this notable machine accompanies the specification. 

1852. — George Fitt [No. 921], of Parsonage House, 
Chalk, near Gravesend. "Obtaining mechanical motive 
power and speed." This is a singular specification, although 
only provisional, and has a large drawing attached. Its 
author has now lost all title to the invention. He says : — 
" From the mechanical principle of the inclined plane, and a 
certain law of the lever, I have produced, by an arrangement 
of machinery, a multiplied mechanical force without an 
ultimate loss of speed." He adds : — " The method of work- 
ing the machine is, by causing the power to revert to the 
first wedge from any part where it is greater and the velocity 
is the same as in the first wedge, by the bands and riggers, 
f. «., by rods, or any other method, by the hand or by a 
spring, or anything else capable of giving it motion and force." 
Again : — " Suffice it to say, that by increasing the diameter 
of the wedges, and the velocity with which they revolve, and 
the number acting on each other, a power can be obtained 
more than sufficient for any purpose yet known, or that ever 
will be known, where power is required." 

1852.— A. V. Newton [No. 1163], of Chancery Lane, 
Lond6n, Patent Agent. " Improvements in obtaining and 
applying motive power." This invention consists in " em- 
ploying the pressure of a weight or of a lever, to act upon 
one or more wheels, rollers, or pulleys, and thereby cause 
them, by their rotation, to actuate the axle or shaft intended 

462 PEBPETUUM mobile; 

to communicate motion ,to a carriage or machine." Eif^ht 
and a half folio pages of description follow, with two large 
sheets of drawings, as given by this agent's " foreign cor- 
respondent," who states that — " The principle upon which 
is based the present invention is, that the force of gravity 
properly applied will produce the effect of a horizontal or 
tractive force. This being the case, it will be understood 
that, by properly applying and adapting this force of gravity, 
a carriage, even when loaded with a heavy weight, may, or 
to a certain extent, be made to propel itself.** 

1852.— Benjamin Globney [No. 1189], of Mardlyke 
Mills, near Dublin, Manufacturer. '* Improvements in ob- 
taining and applying motive power.*' He has only filed a 
provisional specification, which, if it has no other merit, has 
that of brevity. He says : — *• This ii^vention consists in 
obtaining motive power by the weight of a njoving waggon or 
carriage, which is made to traverse backwards and forwards 
along a railway, and thereby communicate thereto an oscil- 
lating or vibrating motion, or a rectilinear motion, the said 
railway being either mounted on a centre or pivot for this 
purpose, or otherwise constructed and aiTanged so that the 
weight of the loaded waggon or carriage may be made to act 
thereon. The power and motion thus obtained may be 
communicated by any convenient gearing to the machinery 
intended to be driven ; but the peculiar arrangement of such 
gearing must depend upon circumstances, and should, in a 
great measure, be left to the discrimination of a competent 

1853.— AuGusTE E. L. Bellford [No. 118], of C&stle 
Street, London. Patent Agent. "An improved machine for 
obtaining motive power." It is *' composed of pumps of 
small diameter, a water reservoir into which air is pumped, 
causing the water to escape by a tube, thence into a smaller 
cylinder,** &c., &c. Suffice it to say, that this complication 
of pumps, pipes, and cisterns, is so efficient, " that once in 
movement, the machine will feel it, and will not require any 
auxiliary motive powjer.** As the plan (communicated by a 


foreigner) is fully described by drawinpjs, although the 
patent is not completed, it is open to public use— if wanted* 

1854. — ApDERLElf WiLLCOCKS SleicJ^ [No. 174], Kuight 
of the Most Noble and Ancient Order of the Tower and 
Sword, M.R.H.S., Captain Royal Services of Portugal and 
Spain, late R.N*, of No. 1, Weymouth Street, Portland Place, 
London, Middlesex, for his invention of " creating a continual 
self-acting, self-sustaining, new motive poller, applicable to 
every purpose requiring speed, motion, atid power, together 
or separately/' 

He states as his invention,*—" Firstly, T^ie application, by 
the mechanical agency hereiiiafter described, of the principle 
of the imponderosity or identification of lesser quantities or 
bodies of fluids, or liquids in fluids, or liquids of their own 
nature, or otherwise, and of the same or different tempera- 
tures. Secondly, Of the principle of the ponderosity, attraction, 
or specific gravity and momentum of fluids or liquids in the 
atmosphere, or in any less dense medium, or in a vacuum." 
And sp through four other heads of like jargon. He con- 
cludes :-^" I do not confine my discovery and invention, the 
principles being natural laws; and being the first and only 
person to shew and ascertain and pi;ove (?) how those natural 
laws could be applied to power and speed by an engine 
invented by me, and these principles thus applied being 

In the printed specification, six folio pages are occupied 
with description, and two large but extraordinarily-executed 
drawings given, they being mere rough pen-and-ink hand 
sketches, executed without rule or compasses. A more 
stubbornly solid piece of mechanical invention it is next to 
impossible to imagine ; and only that, according to his own 
statements, the patentee himself appears s6 satisfied with its 
versatile mobility, we might good-naturedly enough suppose 
his sole object was tb solicit information on the merits of this 
oddly conceived and constructed monster perpetual motion 

1854. — John Aitken [No. 557], of I ongsight, Manchester* 

464 PEKPETUUM mobile; 

Gentleman. " Improvements in obtaining motive power." 
His short provisional specification, all he published, makes 
the following a public gift ! — '' This invention consists in an 
arrangement of apparatus for obtaining power by lifting and 
lowering weights, and this is done by means of two pulleys 
between which are guides for the weights used. The lowest 
of the two pulleys is so formed as to push the weights in 
succession up the gui&e to the upper pulley, over which it 
passes, and descends by the guide on the opposite side. The 
machine is set in motion by any external power, and then the 
principles of inertia, gravity, and momentum are brought 
into action, and the result is, the weight of the balls falling, 
and their momentum is on one side of the working wheel, 
the cog wheel, and on the other side the weight of the ascend- 
ing balls lessened by their momentum; the momentum in 
both being in proportion to their velocity, and the difference 
between the two is the working power." Possibly he has 
often since wished that facts had favoured him as much as a 
fervid fancy in inaking such a declaration of his supposed 

1854.— James W. Shaw [No. 1360], of Birmingham, 
Merchant. A communication from Don Manuel Maria Jose 
Trinidad Miciano y Contillo, residing at Cadiz, Spain " Im- 
provements in apparatus or machinery for producing motive 
power." This ingenious Spaniard saith :^" The invention 
consists in a certain arrangement and combination of an axle 
with a system of shifting radial arms or levers, furnished 
with weights, and maintaining a motive power by the force of 
gravity jdone, without any other agent than mechanism." 

1854.— Plato Oulton [No. 1744], of Dublin. Gentle- 
man. " Improvements in obtaining motive power." '* My 
invention consists in the construction of a machine or appa- 
ratus in which a stream of leaden or other suitable balls are 
made to supply the place of water in actuating two or more 
main wheels, and in which provision is made for keeping up 
a constant supply or stream of balls to these wheels by means 
of a peculiar arrangement • of worm shafts." The machine 
consists of ** two main wheels, above which is an inclined 


plane, by way of head race, down which the balls roll on to 
the wheels, each ball entering one of the buckets of the 
wheels. When the balls have carried the wheels round, they 
fall on to and roll down another short inclined plane, by way 
of tail race, and are carried on to the screws or worm shafts." 
This " head race" and " tail race *' must, long ere this, have 
turned out a goose chase. The whole specification reads as 
if rather coming from the good old times of the last century 
than with the freshness of only the last six years. Three 
and a half folio pages of print, and a large drawing, com- 
plete this sapient specification. 

1854. — Fbedebick Samson Thomas [No. 2129], of 17, 
Cornhill, London. " An improved mode of obtaining motive 
power." Provisional protection alone having been obtained, 
expired within six months, and the following statement is 
now given to the public for whatever it is worth : — " My 
invention (he says) consists in certain mechanical contriv- 
ances for the construction of a wheel having, by its own 
mechanical construction, the power to commence and sustain 
a rotative movement, and applicable to convey such move- 
ment to other machinery requiring motive power. The con- 
struction of the wheel consists in forming therein certain 
arms or chambers, upon or within which I place weighty 
balls, or rollers, or fluids, which approach the periphery of 
the wheel upon the descending side, and the centre or nave 
of the wheel upon the ascending side ; and by the greater 
leverage on the descending side, I provile the power by 
which the wheel obtains and sustains its own lotative move- 

The early pages of the present volume sufficiently expose 
the fallacy of this olt-repeated scheme. 

1854.— Geobge Hale [No. 2589], of Tavistock Street, 
London, Boot and Shoe Maker. " Certain improvements in 
obtaining and applying motive power." Although only pro- 
visionally specified, and therefore lost to the patentee, the 
public will be no gainers, the invention being a very old one. 
" My improvements (?) consist in, taking advantage of the 

466 PEKPETUUM mobile; 

power of gravity, and applying the same by means of a 
suitable arrangement of mechanical parts to drive machinery 
of various kinds. Power is obtained (?) by causing certain 
weights applied to or connected with rotating arms or levers 
to act upon and drive a central shaft with which the said 
arms are connected. The weighted levers are jointed, and 
so arranged, that when they are intended to act by their 
gravity on the shaft to be driven, they will be extended out- 
wards to their greatest extent, so that their weights may be 
made to act with the greatest leverage and effect on the 
central shaft, and cause the same to rotate ; and when the 
weighted arms or levers have so acted, and are required to 
be brought up again into their elevated position, the weights 
are brought nearer to the centre of the shaft, or ol the circle 
of rotation, so as to diminish the leverage and allow the 
falling weights, whose leverage is much greater, to oviercome 
the gravity of the ascending ones. The motive power thus 
obtained may be applied by causing the molion of the centre 
shafc to be communicated to the main driving shaft of any 
machine or apparatus required to be driven.** Alas ! who, 
reading the above, would suppose he was perusing a docu- 
ment from the archives of the Patent Office ? 

1856. — Jacques Roux Delguey Malavas [No. 238], 
of Montbrison, France, Gentleman. '" Improved machinery 
for obtaining and applying motive power.'* It consists of 
'•an arrangement of apparatus which I term (he says) gravi- 
tation machinery." Its principle " is founded upon the 
laws of gravity, and the power depends upon the difference 
which exists with the same weight, according to whether it 
is brought nearer to or further from its point of gravitation." 

"The apparatus consists of a number of circular plates 
accurately fixed on a long horizontal shaft mounted in suit- 
able bearings. Between these plates are placed long levers, 
their centres of motion at one end, their opposite ends rest- 
ing in guides, &c.'* 

He concludes : — " When the main shaft has been made to 
rotate once, the weight of the levers, by bearing on the discs, 
will keep it continuously in motion." A large drawing, and 
four and a half folio printed pages, complete the specifica- 
tion of this not very obvious scheme. 


1855.^— Geoboe Augusttts Huddabt [No. 942], of 
Brjmkir, Caernarvon. " Improved machinery for obtaining 
and applying motive power." A water-wheel with buckets, 
and a chain of buckets ; the first to raise the water to ai^ 
elevated cistern, being rotated by the chain, operated by the 
discharge of the water raised. Why disturb such novelties 
from their origiinal dust? But, abov^ all, why ^.ttempt 
patenting such rubbish ? 

1860. — Geobge ATTGiTSTirs Huddabt and Joseph Dub^ 
HAM Ebskine Huddabt [No. 263], both of Brynkir, 
Caernarvon, Gentlemen. " ImprovemeijJs m obtaimng motive 

The object of this invention is to obtain motive power by 
loading a wheel in such a manner that the specific gravity of 
the load on one side shall always exceed that of the other, 
and thereby ensure its continuous rotation so long as the me-.- 
chanism is desired to operate. The load proposed to be 
applied to the wheel may consist, for example, of a series of 
cylinders open at one end, and fitted each vnth a weighted piston, 
which closes them air-tight. The cylinders are placed jj.round 
the wheel, and the whole of the apparatus is to be immersed 
in water or other liquid. The cylinders are to be filled 
with air or other aeriform body, and the weighted pistons, 
as they come round to the position for pressing upon the 
air or gas contained in their respective cylinders, will com- 
press that fluid, and thus the buoyancy of the cylinder will 
be proportionately reduced. When, however, the weighted 
piston becomes pendent, it will act in the opposite direction, 
and expand the confined air or gas, and thereby increase the 
buoyancy of its cylinder ; thus each cylinder will be constantly 
presenting to the central wheel a varying specific gravity. 
And it is this increase or decrea,se in the specific gravity of 
the parts forming the load which is made available for driving 
the wheel, and thereby producing motive power.. 

Instead of employing a dead weight for compressing and 
expanding the confined air, a cam or other equivalent mecha- 
nical means may be adopted. The load may also, if preferred, 
be carried by an endless chain passing over a pair of chaia 


468 PEKPETTJUM mobile; 

1855. — Robert Beijton [No. 2304], of Birmingham, 
Engineer, Surveyor, and Land Agent. "Improvements in 
obtaining motive power by leverage." 

This invention has for its object the means of keeping a 
barrel or wheel in continuous motion by the successive appli- 
cation of any even number of levers, acting entirely inde- 
pendent of each other, and in eccentric instead of the cus- 
tomary circular orbits ; for which purpose, eccentric planes 
are employed, and each lever, on successively coming in con- 
tact with such eccentric plane or planes, is for the time being 
elongated, and rendered a long lever with a short shank ; and 
having passed through or over such plane or planes, it imme- 
diately becomes neutralized on the rising side of the barrel 
or wheel to which it is attached, by being so fixed as to form 
one side of a cube figure, either square or octagonal, and in 
that position it is carried roimd the moving barrel or wheel 
until its pivot returns to the point from whence it was first 
placed against the face of the eccentric plane. 

The patentee had arrived at an advanced age at the above 
date, which, coupled with his experience and earnest belief 
in the truthfulness of his scheme, might well plead an ample 
apology for the wilder non-perpetualities of mere tyros iu 
mechanical science. 

1855. — ^Henbt Weber [No. 2373], of Zurich, Switzer- 
land, Mechanician. " Certain improvements in apparatus for 
motive power.'* 

" My apparatus (he says) consists of a half cylinder (which 
may be made to rotate on a centre), placed in an inclined 
position, and supported on drums or friction rollers, on which 
it travels in circular guides. To the upper part of the half 
cylinder is attached a weight in such a manner as to press by 
means of a lever on its upper edge. The weight pressing on 
the half cylinder imparts to it a continued revolving motion 
in the guide circles." 

18^. — Michel Pierre Gilardeatt [No. 2607], of Paris, 
and 4, South Street, Finsbury, London. "A new motive 
power." " The invention consists, first, in using a certain 
quantity of liquid equal to a weight of at least three atmo- 


spheres, to compress the air alternately into two parallel 
pumps, thereby obtaining a power equ^ to the weight em-r 
ployed. Secondly, to make use of the compressed air for 
propelling a horizontal cylinder in which a vacuum is pro^ 
duced. And, lastly, to compel the weight employed for com-? 
pressing the ^ to p^ss fron^ one sidg of the ^pps^atus to th^ 

1856.*«-David Jones [No. 463], of Kagland, Monmouth, 
Civil Engineer. " Certain improvements in obtaining and 
applying motive power." This invention consists in obtain^ 
ing power by the combined action of air, W9fter, or other 
fluids on each other, by vacuum or pressure. An important 
feature consists in so constructing and operating with the 
apparatus l^at there is no appreciable friction of the principal 
parts thereof, and consequently no wear of the material, 
thereby effecting economy ; the power generated and main- 
tained in the apparatus for an indeiuiite peripd is also 
attended with no expense. 

I take (he adds) an open vessel, of any convenient shape 
or size, into which I place water ; also a cylindrical vessel, 
the air discharged therefrom, is to be filled with water, and 
placed upright with the open end downwards, immersed in 
the first vessel ; a hollow collapsible sphere has afiixed to one 
end a flexible tube, formed with two outlets or branches, each 
fitted with a cock, one opening to the atmosphere, the other 
to a hollow vessel. 

A " vibrating lever" is described ; and after a printed page 
of description, we are at last assured that— r" The alternate 
opening and closing of the cocks of the apparatus is rendered 
«elf-acting by the vibrating movement of the lever or other 
sidtable means." 

Most likely the " other suitable means " was found, in the 
end, to be just the one thing wanting, for this patent, like 
many of its class, never went beyond the first six months* 

1856. — pWixliam Smith [No. 1168], Adelpbi* London, 
A communication from Alexandre Herault, of Angers, France. 
" A new application of the syphon as j^n irrigator and a 
motive power machine." 

470 PEKPETUUM moblle; 

The inventinn consists in the peculiar arrancfement of an 
apparatus fitted to the upper part of a syphon, which is pro- 
vided with receptacles, which permit the withdrawal of a 
certain quantity of water from it without disturbing it or its 
action, and employing this water at the same time as a motive 
power, by the means and through the instrumentality of the 
apparatus itself, and also by its fall working an hydraulic 
power of any description, or feeding a system of irrigation. 
Finally, by means of this apparatus, water can be thrown to 
a heiarht of from three to seven or eight yards, without cessa- 
tion, by makinsf the exit vent of the trough in a proportion 
agreeing to the quantity or volume of water that it receives. 

Two folio pages of print and a full drawing complete the 
specification of this topsy-turvy sjrphon ; but as the invention 
did not proceed to the Great Seal, all right in it has lapsed in 
consequence. The idea is by no means new, and its cause of 
failure is due to an imperative law of hydrostatics. 

1856.— Duncan Lang [No. 1345], of Greenock, Scot- 
land, Engineer. *' Improvements in obtaining and applying 
motive power." 

Air (he says), when accumulated in any vessel, and com- 
pressed or urged into motion, acts as a very powerful motive 

Having described an engine, but one that is capable of 
great modification, he concludes : — " The motion is perpetual 
in its action, in as far as matter or material is susceptible of 
the time (query, "term") being applied to mechanical inven- 
tion, and capable of being modifiisd and adjusted, stopped 
and resumed. Its advantages are — its enormous power and 
economical use ; the pressure from the compressed air of the 
common atmosphere dispensing with coal, coke, fire, and the 
tear and wear of their action, and expense, as attendant on 
the engines of the present day in their practical working." 

That word " practical" is a decidedly saving clause in this 
instance. But who would not rather bear with the wear and 
tear of expensive machinery steam-propelled, than rest satis- 
fied with the much-extolled machinery here and elsewhere 
described as that of which " the motion is perpetual ?" 

1856. — General Henbi Dembinski [No. 1611], of Paris. 


*' An apparatus giving a self-acting motive power, produced 
by water, elasticity, compressed water, or any gas wnatever.*' 

My invention (he says) consists of an apparatus to produce 
a continual motion reproductive of itself, by two wheels bemg 
connected by means of gearing or endless chains or ropes, 
the motion being produced either by weight or elasticity, the 
latter obtained by air, gas, compressea water, or any com- 
pressible fluid. 

This hopeless scheme is accompanied by a drawing de- 
scribed in a full folio page of letter-press, presenting no 
extractable point of interest. It never had more than six 
months' patent protection. 

1856.-i-RoBEBT and Edward Lavender [No. 2164], of 
London. " Improvements in raising water and other fluids, 
and in obtaining power thereby.'* Their apparatus consists 
of two upright cylinders, between and over which a wheel 
or pulley is moimted, and over this wheel an articulated 
piston is hung, its ends passing into the two cylinders ; one 
end of the piston descending into one of the cylinders, dis- 
places the fluid therein, which flows up to suitable troughs, 
?ind the other end of the piston descends into the other 
cylinder. Hydraulic bellows are recommended for giving 
motive power ! "In this way (we are assured) any amount 
of motive power will be obtained, and the only cost thereof 
will be that of keeping the machinery in repair." Which 
" cost,** we can promise, shall be as nothing per annum, for 
how can that wear out that remains so imperturbably quiet } 

1856. — ^Antione Jean Baptiste Lespinasse [No. 2284], 
of Toulouse, France, Engineer. " Improvements in the means 
of obtaining motive power." All we can learn of this pre- 
cious scheme is derived from one of the shortest possible 
provisional speciflcations, thus : — " This invention relates to 
an improved hydraulic apparatus for obtaining motive power. 
This apparatus consists of a reservoir of water, or other fluid, 
fitted with a syphon, the larger limb of which passes down 
to a water wheel, and is so constructed as to be capable of 
directing a stream of water on to either side of the wheel. 


according to the direction of rotation requiredi Th^ axis of 
this wheel works a set of pumps for raising the water which 
has acted upon the wheel, and returning it to the reservoir 
to be again supplied to the wheel through the syphon. The 
power may be transmitted from the axis of the wat€(r-wheel 
to a driving shaft in any eonvenient manner/' 

1856.-^ROBEflT GfiOitGE Babbow [No. 2455], Of Poplar, 
liondon. Engineer. " A self-maintaining motive power ob- 
tained from water, air, or any other fluid or liquid." Hfe 
says : — " The method of obtaining niotiVe poWer* self-sil^- 
taining, is as follows : I make a double-acting force-pump of 
one half the diameter of the cylinder, and attach to it a 
receiver with an hemispherical top (air- tight), and I force 
water or air into this receiver with the pump until 1 attain 
the pressure on the square inch required. 1 then attach or 
conneet the pUmp to the engine, and it will maintain the 
supply in the receiver for any definite period required, so 
long as all the joints are tight and in working order.'* A 
complete specification and drawings were filed by the in- 
ventor's executors, but the character of the invention, as a 
•* self-sustaining " power, is by no means clear. 

16b6. — ^AiMfi LEcbcci [Nd* 2873], of S^railce, Contractot. 
** Improvements in hydraulic engines." These improve- 
ments consist in an arrahgemfeiit by which the pressure of 
thd water flowing from a basin or reserVoir, and falling down 
in the buckets of a wheel enclosed on both sides, causes this 
wheel to turn and carry the water up through a syphon- 
like canal to another basin or reservoir, from whence part of 
the water may flow aild impart motion to another wheel, 
which latter, as well as th6 first one, may serve then as a 
prime mover for any machinery. 

1657.— SARfttOtOMKW PbedatallU [Nd. 958], df 
Bloomsbury, London, Civil Engineer. " A new motive en- 
^inei*' ** The said invention (he says) consists in the action, 
feltcrtlately intercepted and restoredj of the vertical pressure 


©f liquids on a base, and the ascent of liquids by capillary 
attraction. For this purpose, twice the liquid, for instance, 
water, wanted to rise a piston in a cylinder is put in a vessel, 
large in .size and small in depth, communicating with the 
said cylinder. A reservoir above the vessel, and of the same 
size, is put in communication with the cover of the vessel by 
a pipe, and both the reservoir and pipe are filled with water. 
In the cover of the vessel there are fixed some capillary 
tubes in glass, communicating with the water inside the 
vessel, and such in number as to contain about the quantity 
of water required to raise the piston, these capillary tubes 
passing throughout the bottom of the reservoir into the 
water ; they are vertical for about one inch, then horizontal 
for about half an inch, then vertical to the top. This par- 
ticular construction of the capillary tubes is indispensable to 
the purpose for which they are intended. A valve in the 
cover of the vessel when cut off the communication of the 
pipe with the water in the vessel, opens the communication 
between the water in the vessel and the capillary tubes." 
He also vaguely describes another similar machine, being 
only a provisional specification. 

1858. — ^Babtolommeo Pbedavalle [No. 2563], of 
Hart Street, Middlesex, Civil Engineer. " Improvements in 
producing or obtaining motive power." 

" My invention relates to the combination of certain me- 
chanical means in connection with a peculiar property of 
fluids observable in the ' hydrostatic paradox * for the pur- 
pose of producing or obtaining motive power. According to 
this invention, motive power is produced by the vertical 
pressure of a column of fluid alternately cut off and restored. 
For this purpose, a column of fluid is caused to exert vertical 
pressure on a body of fluid contained in a vessel of larger 
base than the diameter of the column, means being provided 
for alternately and instantaneously cutting off and restoring 
such pressure for neutralizing the pressure on the side oppo- 
site to that on which motion is to be primarily produced, and 
for returning the vessel after having been acted on to its 
original position to receive a fresh impulse. I include in the 
term * fluid,' and propose to use as the fluid agent, water or 
other liquid, mercury or other substance kept naturally or 

474 PEKPETUTJM mobile; 

artificially in a state of sufficient fluidity, vapours, gaseous^ 
or aeriform fluids. In one arrangement, I employ a vessel 
consisting of two separate parts (kept in contact), and flx 
vertically thereto a pipe or tube which communicates with 
the interior of the vessel, and which I fill with fluid so as to 
obtain a pressure in the vessel equal to' the weight of a 
column having the diameter of the vessel's interior and the. 
height of the pipe. The bottom of the vessel is connected 
by a shafts ot otherwise, to one end of a beam or lever, to 
the other end of which, and at an equal distance from the 
centre, is connected another apparatus (or pipe and vessel) 
in eveiy respect similar to the preceding. To each pipe, 
iiear its junction with its respective vessel, is fitted a cock or 
valve, which cocks or valves may be acted on by the motion 
of the machine itself, and are so arranged as to open and 
shut alternately, so that when otie is open, the column of 
fluid will instantly act on the vessel in connection with it, 
and by its pressure force it down, and with it the end of the 
beam ; i«rhile the other vessel, having its cock or valve shut, 
has no other pressure than its own absolute weight, and is 
consequently raised by the leverage of the balance, ». «., the 
depression of the descending vessel. The action is then 
reversed, and thus a reciprocating motion is produced by the 
vertical pressure of the column of fltiid alternately cut off 
and restored. Motion thus obtained may be applied directly 
or transmitted vertically, horizontally, or obliquely, or con- 
verted into rotary or other motion by suitable appliances. 
The power so obtained may also be caused to compress 
liquids or steam, or other aeriform or gaseous fluid, in a 
separate vessel, in order to drive pistotls or communicate 
motion to an Archimedean screw, wheels, or other contriv- 
ances, and may be adopted in substitution of steam, water 
power, or other agent, for working any known arrangement 
of enginci'* 

1869. — Bartolommeo Phedava^li/e [No. 2851], of 
Bloomsbury Street, London, Civil Engineer. " According to 
this invention, motive power is produced by the vertical 
pressure of a column of fluid alternately changing its action 
on the beam of a balance." Only provisional protection was 


1860. — ^Babtolommeo Pbedatalle [No«1458], of Blooms- 
bury, London, Civil Engineer. " A new mode of, and appa- 
ratus for producing and obtaining, motive power." 

The provisional specification (all published) states : — " My 
invention consists in a constant atmospheric pressure impart- 
ing its downward gravitation on a vertical column of liquid, 
commimicating with a hoUow piston suspended in a cylinder 
and surrounded by a vacuum. At one extremity of an india- 
rubber tube is fixed a circular frame containing a valve open- 
ing outside, and at about an inch from this a plate of the 
same diameter as the valve is secured, in order to form a kind 
of a hollow air-tight piston sack or bag." 

More surely need not be quoted to convince any one of the 
impossibility of effecting a moving power by such an ar- 
rangement. However, one more quotation will suffice: — - 
" When the vacuum is made in the cylinder, and the vertical 
pipe filled with liquid, the pressure of the atmosphere through 
the thin or small pipe will impart a constant impulsive force 
to the valve and to the rod touching it, in proportion to the 
height of the column of liquid and the vacuum produced ; 
and the apparatus will move according to the adopted con- 
trivance, and may be applied as the piston of a steam-engine." 

1857. — Chakles Bablow [No. 1108], of Chancery Lane, 
London, Patent Agent. A communication by Joseph Com- 
mandeur, of Lyons, France, Gentleman. '* A mechanical 
apparatus for regenerating the impulsive force of any motive 
power." He says :— 

The effects of this machine are due to the force created by 
the travelling of heavy iron balls or weights in and around 
helical spirals, which are woimd roimd cylinders of different 
diameters. These cylinders are set in motion by the impulse 
given to them by the gravitation of the heavy weights or balls 
when set in motion, which motion is of an oscillating rotatory 
kind, on account of the shafts being inclined. 

The drawing represents a vertical section across the axle 
of the upright cylmders A and B. The helical spirals are of 
a hollow or trough form, so that the iron balls or weights 
placed at the upper end will easily and instantly run down 
them. The spirals of the cylinders A and B have a reverse 



action — ^the former acts as the motive power, the latter as a 
resistance ; that is to say, its only purpose is to carry up 
again the halls or weights running out from the lower spirals 
of the cylinder A into a lower horizontal trough C, which 
conveys them into a lower spire of th6 cylinder B, the iron 
balls nmning up the said cylinder through the spiral wind- 
ings until they reach the top part, where they fall into the 
horisontal path D, which conveys them back to the upper 
spirals of the cylinder B by means of the four bevilled wheels 
£ E E E, two of which are keyed to the horizontal shaft F, 

imd the two others on short vertical shafts A and D. The 
number of spirals beiiig the same in each cylinder, and their 
rotative motion being at the same speed, it follows that at 
feach revolution of the cylinder A a ball will run out of the 
lower spiral, and will be conveyed back to the cylinder B 
through the straight trough, and similarly at each revolution 
of the cylinder B a ball will run out of its upper spiral and 
be conveyed back into the cylinder A through the gutter or 
trough D. This new combination will constantly regenerate 
and maintain the first impulsive force applied to the appa- 
ratus. From the disposition of the helical spirals and 
cylinders, it is evident that the surfaces of revolution gene- 
rated by the axes or shafts T T, of the cylinders A and B, 
are conical surfaces, the generating lines of which are the 
axes 1 1 of the cylinders, which revolve around their summit. 


tvhich moving freely in suitable bearings, the axles or shafts 
1 1 can revolve very freely. The top part of the shafts 1 1 is 
also of a spheroidal shape, as seen at G G, and, working in 
brass seats, moves freely at top and bottom in its bearings^ 
so that the motion of the shafts is easy, the first driving 
around with it the crank H, whilst the shaft I is driven by 
the crank H. At the lower part of the cylinders, discs J J 
are keyed, which discs are provided with wedge pieces K K, 
the lower corners of which bear on the chairs L L for the 
purpose of lessening the strain at the end of the cranks, pro- 
ducing a kind of re-aetion which acts as an addition to the 
motive force. Above the cylinders A and B, circular plates 
or troughs are placed, working on brass bearings around the 
rounded edges of the shafts 1 1. In these troughs, heavy iron 
balls travel, serviiifg as a fly-wheel to the rest of the ma- 
chine, and balancing the bails in the spirals. These plates 
have an oscillating mocion on the rounded edges O 0, and 
are connected to the upper cross arm plates P P by rods 
Q Q Q Q. They have also an oscillatory motion given to 
them by the crank knobs E E. The troughed plates M M 
ought to have an inverted inclination to that of the helical 
spires of the cylinder, which inclination may be suitably 
regulated by the screw nuts on the connecting rods Q Q Q Q* 
as shown on the drawing. The under sides of the troughed 
plate are provided with a circular rib SS, projecting down- 
wards, and rounded off at its edge, and which constantly 
bears on the plates T T as they revolve. By means of the